NBA star Chris Paul led a march on Tuesday to an early voting site at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Paul led almost 2,500 to the polling location as part of the “March to the Polls Part 2” event. Winston-Salem is Paul’s hometown, and the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard is currently enrolled in classes at WSSU. Paul spent about 2 ½ hours on campus, speaking with students and meeting with leaders of the university’s Student Government Association who helped organize the event.
Before the march took place, Paul told reporters he felt a responsibility to encourage people to vote “given the magnitude of the election and everything that is going on right now.” He added that voting “is something bigger than me.” Paul had already voted early in Los Angeles and said his commitment to voting shows college students how important voting is.
Later in the day, Paul spoke to a crowd of students before leading the march.
“Y’all see the power of having all of you together,” Paul said to a crowd of almost 600 students. “Y’all can really make a difference.” After he spoke, WSSU cheerleaders gave a performance to the crowd, and Paul then led a crowd of almost 1,500 people to the Anderson Center on campus.
The WSSU marching band also marched alongside the crowd, which wasn’t only composed of students at the university. Hundreds of local residents joined, as well as some of the candidates running for local office. The band continued to play after they arrived at the Anderson Center, and there were also food trucks that provided attendants with free food.
Students told the Journal that the school’s faculty have continually stressed the importance of voting. “Voting is important. We are instructed since our freshman years to use our voices,” Je’den Clark, WSSU’s SGA president, said.
Alasia Gibbs, a sophomore at the school, attended the event even after already voting as a way to encourage others to vote. “I just wanted to make sure that everyone votes, and encourage all of my friends who didn’t vote,” Gibbs told the Journal.
Both Clark and Gibbs felt that Paul’s presence helped draw a large turnout to the event.
While he’s currently a superstar in the NBA, Paul’s roots are firmly based in Winston-Salem. In high school, he played basketball at West Forsyth High School and played for two years at Wake Forest University before taking off for the NBA. Paul is currently taking two classes at WSSU and still considers himself a resident of Winston-Salem.
Dude reps his city so hard, he even bought a stake in Winston-Salem’s minor league baseball team.
“Even though I’ve seen a lot of stuff, and I travel and you’ve seen me on TV, at the end of the day, my foundation will be always rooted here in Winston-Salem,” Paul told reporters. “The biggest thing for me is for people to see me, touch me and talk to me.”