Democratic political strategist and pundit Donna Brazile received the GW NAACP Minority Woman of Excellence Award Tuesday night in the Marvin Center.
Brazile, a Louisiana native, rose through the political ranks to run Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and work under President Clinton. Brazile is a regular guest on CNN’s “Inside Politics,” “American Morning” and “Crossfire.”
Brazile drew laughter and applause from the 60-person audience and urged America’s young voters to take initiative and force politicians to listen to their concerns.
“Stand up, rise up and don’t be afraid to speak your mind,” Brazile said.
Brazile discussed growing up in a poor Louisiana town and helping run the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign in 1984. Brazile said being determined and getting attention is how she rose to national prominence.
“I was going to stand up for my values and speak my mind and not be afraid to share my wisdom,” she said.
She said the same determination is necessary for a new generation to be heard.
“Young people have finally taken their seat at the table and you can’t go back,” Brazile said. “2004 was a good year to be a young person in this country … you guys were in the grove, people really wanted to know you.”
Brazile talked about the 2000 presidential campaign, saying that “we never gave up.”
She said, “We always found something to do, we wanted the experience, the knowledge of how to fight.”
Brazile admitted after the speech there is more that Democrats could be doing to help young people get their voices heard in government.
“The Republican Party is making a push to get more young people involved, and I think the Democrats need to do the same,” she said. “I think the Democrats can do a better job of reaching out and ensuring that young people have a place at the table and that they’re given a voice in the process and that they’re not called upon to help elect Democrats, but they are selected to help set policy.”
NAACP officers said Brazile is an inspiration because she has achieved her goals.
“Donna Brazile was selected because she is one of the most powerful women in politics, so we thought that she could inspire everyone to realize their own power that’s already inside them,” GW NAACP President Paul Kendrick said. “I think everyone is going to be inspired in their own lives and to organize in a grassroots way.”