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JCSU to host cybersummit during DNC

By Celeste Smith
cesmith@charlotteobserver.com

With both the red – and blue – carpets literally rolled out, politics and Hollywood merged at Johnson C.Smith University on Tuesday, with actress Alfre Woodard headlining an announcement about the school hosting a cybersummit during the week of the Democratic National Convention.

Linking politicians, actors, activists and students via technology, the event, called “UFuture: A Summit for Innovative Young Thinkers,” will bring award-winning actors Woodard and Hill Harper, actress Jurnee Smollett of “The Great Debaters” and others back to campus Sept. 4 for an online dialogue to be projected on screens set up in the gymnasium. The event is open to any college student, organizers said.

“Of course we cannot tear you away from your technology, so we are saying, bring it. Bring it with you. We want students to bring their smartphones, their tablets of every sort. And in the gymnasium here at Johnson C. Smith University, they will be tweeting, texting, tumbling, what else do you do? We will be live streaming about what’s on their minds.”

UFuture will be presented by the university and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, the lawmaker group’s nonpartisan arm. Event day also will include U.S. Reps. Mel Watt of Charlotte, James Clyburn of South Carolina, and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi on the panel.

And attendees can expect “A member or two of the administration as well,” Woodard said.

Watt said UFuture is in line with voter education events the caucus' institute has sponsored over the past 12 years, including partnering with CNN in 2008 for the South Carolina presidential primary debate featuring then-candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Students, neighborhood residents, university officials and media packed the balloon-lined student union for Woodard’s announcement, which featured a confetti throw at the end and “See you in September!” projected on the wide-screen.

JCSU has been hosting events all year leading up to the convention in Charlotte, which starts with a Sept. 3 Labor Day party at Charlotte Motor Speedway and ends Sept. 6 with President Barack Obama accepting the nomination in a speech at Bank of America Stadium.

JCSU president Ron Carter said it’s all about engaging young people in the political process.

“Now’s the time for young people to stand up and to do their own thinking,” Carter said, “as we teach you at Smith to do.”

Smith: 704-358-5087On Twitter: @CelesteSmithObs
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