Democrats Stage Registration Rally

A handful of political celebrities arrived at the Fresh Pond Apartments complex Saturday to plug voter registration for minority citizens.

Handicapped activist Ted Kennedy Jr., Cambridge City Councillor David E. Sullivan and activist Mel King urged citizens at the rally to register three days before the deadline.

The rally also featured the Rev. Vernon Carter, a civil rights activist since the 1960s.

The location of the Cambridge drive was chosen because it houses a large number of newly naturalized minority citizens, said Zora Maynard, a longtime volunteer for the Rainbow Coalition.

"There are also plenty of Americans living there who have lived all their lives here, have gone through the school system, and don't really know they can do this. It's a matter of re-education for them. Not enough has been done prior to this," said Maynard.

The drive was organized jointly by the campaign committees of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass.) and Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, as well as the Rainbow Coalition, a political organization founded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and by King, a long-time friend of Jackson's.

The four speakers said members of minority groups would get more attention from politicians by registering to vote in greater numbers.

"Politicians take note of which groups are registered and which are not," said Sullivan. "Because it is mostly the well-to-do that vote, they have disproportionate representation in the city government."

Kennedy said the disadvantaged must politicize themselves. "You are not going to get housing or ramps for the disabled out of the goodness of people's hearts...We need to include in the political process those people who have been locked out. It's a rainy day outside, but there's a rainbow out there."

And Carter told the group of about 25 project residents, "We must have a voice to the White House to get rid of kingpins and stop drugs from incarcerating young Black people."

Although turnout was lower than expected because of the rain, 25 residents of the subsidized housing project had registered in two hours, and more approached the registration table as the speakers continued.

After the rally, Kennedy and a staff member walked around the building, talking to people about the importance of registration.

For Ted, Jr., The rally is the final phase in a series of registration campaigns in cities such as Dorchester, Worcester and Springfield, which have large numbers of minority citizens who are not registered. Jesse Jackson, Jr. joined Kennedy in the statewide drive on September 30.

Although Ted, Jr. is a co-manager of his father's senatorial campaign, Massachusetts campaign regulations require him--and all workers in voter registration drives--to remain nonpartisan.

King, however, ended his remarks with: "Vote for the campaign of the Democratic party because through it we will see changes in the long run."

Cambridge Election Commissioner Sondra Scheir said the Commission works all year round, "sitting on every street corner," educating people about the voting process. She has run registration booths at the Science Center and the Freshman Union in recent days for Harvard students to register as Cambridge voters.