By Zoisa Fraser in Ohio*
Women are just as capable as men to be president, Beyoncé told those packed into the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday night for a free concert organised by her husband, music mogul and rapper Jay Z in support of US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
“This is history. Thank you for being here tonight… If you were black, white, Mexican, Asian, Muslim, educated, poor or rich, if you were a woman it did not matter. Less than 100 years ago women did not have the right to vote. Look how far we have come from having no voice to being on the brink of making history; electing the first woman president,” Beyoncé shouted above screams.
Dressed in a black and white polka-dot pantsuit, she sang a medley of her popular hits including “Formation”, “Independent Ladies” and “(Girls) Run the World,” as she appeared to be not just trying to tell the mostly black audience that women are just as powerful as men, but also that race does not matter.
“We have to vote. The world looks to us as a progressive country that leads change… I want my daughter to grow up seeing a woman lead our country and now that her possibilities are limitless. We have to think about the future of our daughters, our sons and vote for someone who cares for them as much as we do and that is why I am with her,” she said.
She said the election of President Barack Obama was the beginning of change and Clinton must be elected to ensure that the cycle continues. She said it was important that the cycle continues to ensure that there is freedom and endless opportunities for all Americans.
Beyoncé’s performance lasted for about half an hour. Also performing were Jay Z, Chance the Rapper, Big Sean and J Cole and they urged all to vote for Clinton if they had not done so already.
Clinton, towards the end of the two-hour show, also pleaded for votes.
“Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King could walk and Martin Luther walked so that Barack Obama could run and Barack Obama ran so that all the children could fly… But we have unfinished business to do, more barriers to break and with your help a glass ceiling to crack,” Clinton said.
She said she wanted to be a president who helps everyone reach their full potential but “I can’t do that unless on Tuesday we decide what kind of country we wanna be.”
Clinton urged the concertgoers to take the energy they had received from the music and turn out in their numbers on Tuesday and vote for her. She also urged them to vote before Tuesday if they can.
“I thank Beyoncé for standing up and showing the world that we are strongest when we look out for each other and I thank Jay for addressing in his music some of our biggest challenges in our country: poverty, racism, the urgent need for criminal justice reform,” she said to cheers.
“Help us win, Ohio,” she pleaded.
This concert comes days after the party’s Ohio office agreed that being a woman might be hurting the Clinton campaign and may be costing the party votes.
Chairman of the Democratic Party David Pepper on Thursday told a group of foreign journalists, “I think that hurts… A lot of your countries would have had a woman president already but we never had. I mean, that is like the last glass ceiling of our country and I think it’s hard to watch Trump rallies and see what people are saying about her… Some people are clearly driven by some issue they have with a woman being in power… You can’t go to a Trump rally or see footage of it without concluding that there is a real connection to some lack of respect for women or women in power, meaning that they don’t respect Hillary Clinton.”
Before the start of the concert, Stabroek News spoke to several persons in the Wolstein Center and they declared their support for Clinton. A few said that they have already voted and were happy that the country’s most powerful musical couple was putting on a free show for them.
Michael Morgan said that he had already voted for Clinton and was there for the concert. “When I found out that they were also giving away tickets I figured, hey why not she already got my vote,” he said.
He said that though the entire campaign season she was the most believable. “Throughout the campaign everyone says the stuff that people just wanna hear about …I am so not here for Trump…I don’t believe him. I don’t think he should lead this country,” he said.
He said that in the past everyone has lied and as such he believes that Clinton has learned from her mistakes regarding the emails. He said that he trusts Clinton to lead the country in the right direction.
“I just don’t want Trump in that office and that played a lot in my decision,” Morgan said.
Meanwhile hours earlier Trump supporters gathered at Airport Road, Wilmington, Ohio, for a rally and many said that the inexperienced Trump will do a better job. Stabroek News did not attend the event but managed to capture the views of several persons as they entered.
Dottie Thompson, 72, said she supports Trump because things cannot get worse than they already are. “With her, her husband they have been in… and I don’t like what they stand for. I am against abortion, so against abortion. I am against all that she has done, with the lies, the FBI things, so you just have to sit, listen and learn, watch and weigh it,” she said.
She believes Trump is on top and she will be voting for him. “We don’t have a good choice this year. This is not the choice most Americans would have wanted but this is just what we have got,” she said adding that not voting is out of the question.
Abraham Arnold said he is definitely against Clinton because his brother served in the military, and what happened in Benghazi and the lies she told about it was unforgivable.
“My brothers, they don’t support her, so I understand that Trump is a little wild but he is not in politics and that is what America needs, somebody to shake up our politics,” he said. He later expressed the view that Trump would be an effective leader because he would have good advisers around him. “How many presidents in the past were never politicians and have built this country to the way it is?” he added.
According to John Rickey, 79, he was at the rally to see and support the next president. “I don’t like some of the things he has done… He likes to make fun of people and stuff like that… But the thing I like about him he is gonna put the right kind of people with him … good black people,” he said.
Rickey who walks with the aid of a cane pointed out that a president without political experience is not a big deal. He believes blacks stand to benefit more with a Trump presidency.
*Stabroek News is one of two Caribbean media houses chosen to participate in the Ohio Election Night Tour organised by the US Department of State’s Foreign Press Centre.