Actress Nia Long paid a special visit to Philadelphia yesterday in order to discuss the importance of voting. During her day-long visit, Long, who starred in “Soul Food” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” made several stops during her stay which began with a visit to the Obama Campaign office at 7171 Ogontz Ave. Long continued her visit to the city with an appearance at Philadelphia Hair Company on 5805 Germantown Ave. and concluded with time spent at Ms. Tootsie’s restaurant on South Street.
At each venue, Long appealed to her fans to register and turn up at the polls this November, stressing the importance of voting. At the Philadelphia Hair Company, Long expressed her view that Obama has, in her opinion, begun good work as president — work that which will require another four years to complete.
“I am here to reach out to the people of Philadelphia and to spread the word that it is so important that you show up to vote. We only have a hundred days before the election and this election is crucial for us,” said Long. Barbers and hairstylists cut and groomed hair in the background as their patrons and visitors listened attentively to Long.
“I got involved mainly because I had a moment in my own life where I said to myself, ‘I have two children, two boys, one eleven and the other eight months,” said Long, who said she also has two parents who are aging and a grandparent suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Owner of the Philadelphia Hair Company, Mark Lightfoot, was cutting hair during Long’s visit and has been doing so for the past 27 years. Lightfoot is known to regularly speak to his patrons about the importance of voting.
“We need everyone to get out to vote, because this election is as important, perhaps more important, than the last election,” said Lightfoot.
Long expressed approval and support for Obama’s performance as president, she also believes that he, as a person, is simply the ideal man for the job.
“At the heart of who I know this man is, and Michelle — the heart of the Obamas — is really about reaching out and supporting middle America — because the middle of anything means balance,” said Long.
Long said that such balance manifests itself in things like a balanced budget.
“If you just look at where the budget has been before Obama and the messes you have had to clean up,” explained Long. “If we don’t vote for him, we are going to be right back where we were four years ago, and worse.”
Long acknowledged having been very blessed in the entertainment business but says that there is no security in it and that she, like everyone else, has a stake in the direction of this country and the policies that affect its economy.
Long has received numerous awards for her philanthropy and, although concerned about the vote, vehemently denies having any political aspirations for her campaign to raise awareness and motivating citizens to vote.
“People matter to me. I think that I am a humanitarian at heart; … the welfare of children matters to me. When I think of what Obama is doing with Pell Grants, I’m like, ‘thank God there will be a way for more of us to go to college — [for] more of our children to go to college,’” Long said.
Long also says that she doesn’t believe the presidential race or the issues affecting this country can be categorized as black or white; instead, it’s an issue of the “haves and have-nots.”
Asked what message she would like to bestow upon the residents of Philadelphia, Long had this to say: “You can both stand on the sidelines and watch life go by, or you can get involved and make a difference,” said Long, adding that she hopes Philadelphians will choose the latter and vote this November.