Father & Son

CD: We’ll just start easy. So are you an alum, or what brings you over here?

F: I’m not an alum. Today’s Election Day, which is a big deal to us. I like to make sure that my son, my kids—I have a daughter as well—see what the electoral process can be. I do work and fund work like what’s happening here with the campus vote challenge and Young Invincibles to try and get more young and more diverse people into the electoral process. So I’m hanging out around Hampton Roads all day today to see how the different little projects are working out. I love for my son to see what it’s like to help strengthen democracy. 

ED: Can I ask you what’s the coolest thing about your dad?

F: It’s a high pressure question!

ED: One cool thing!

N: That whenever he has a chance to stay home with us he does.

F: That’s a good answer, son.

ED: Is there something fun that you did recently when he was home?

N: Wait, in our house?

ED: Yeah, when he stayed at home with you guys.

N: Well, I don’t really remember. 

ED: But that’s cool that you remember that his presence means a lot to you. That’s really awesome.

CD: I see that you guys have matching shoes! Is there a story there? 

M: Yeah, he got those shoes and he actually wanted to have matching shoes with mine. I had had these for a month or so and he wanted the same ones so we’re shoe twins… What else would you like to know?

CD: You said that you traveled around a little bit, right? What’s the coolest or the most involved place you’ve ever been?

F: Really good question. So, on Sunday we did a pretty cool event at Norfolk State and I was able to bring the actress Kerry Washington into town and so we had a room full of about five or six hundred people that really engaged and we called it the She-roes of Democracy. So she was able to talk to four or five young women and I think all four of them were—yeah, there were four panelists—all four of them were undergrads. And she got to talk to them about the different things that they do to help sort of raise awareness within the community about exercising their right to vote and being a more involved citizen. And I took my daughter to that. So that was very very cool, to see that kind of turnout and that kind of engagement. It was fun. 

ED: What do you think brought you to these wants for your children and these values that you hold? Where do they come from?

F: So I’ve kind of been an activist my whole life and then having gone into the private sector and established a career…a couple of years ago, so many things happened in the political universe that were just so very disturbing. And my daughter who at the time was six came home just bawling her eyes out because somebody had made fun of her and asked and sort of challenged whether or not she was Muslim or something like that. So at that point I realized that it was time to sort of put career things aside and see if we could come out here and make a real difference. So I just want my kids to understand what democracy is supposed to be, and what fairness and inclusion in this country is supposed to be, and just trying to live that out in front of them. 

ED: That’s really cool. It’s really lucky to be able to do that for them for sure.

F: Yeah, it’s important. (to Nelson) What is it like being here today and hanging out on campus?

N: Fun. Well, it’s more fun than I thought it would be!

F: So, tell them—come here real quick—and tell them what we were able to do a few minutes ago with the football over there.

N: Oh, yeah. We thought that we were going to get in trouble because we were in the football stadium and I finally realized that there’s a track, that there’s also a track in football stadiums. And then when the guard came out, he was about to lock the door and then we came out when he was about to lock it then and was just like “I’m glad I caught you.”

F: We found an open gate so we went out there and he caught a football in the middle of the actual football field which was kind of fun. And he’s a super gymnast, he won a gymnastics meet here last spring, I think. 

CD: Wow, congratulations!

ED: How does it feel to be doing all those cool things?

N: It’s fun! Sometimes it can be a little challenging and you can be kind of pressured, but it’s fun. 

ED: Yeah. Did you make friends or did you learn anything really cool through your experiences in gymnastics? 

N: I made a lot of friends in gymnastics, and they’re really good because it’s just fun that you have different people to know that they’re alongside of you. 

ED: That’s really great, yeah. Support from friends is the best. I wish you all the best with that, that’s really cool. My younger cousins, they’re about your age, they’re in gymnastics too. It’s really cool to see them grow through that. 

F: What else would be helpful?

ED: Well, we always just allow people the opportunity, if they have something about their own life or their own story, that they just want to share.

F: Yeah, well, I think we did a little bit of that, right? Talking about why we’re here, what brought me into this field of work and why I make sure that I, you know, rope my kids into it as much as possible. So yeah, and it’s important also just that what we’ve learned and what I tend to invest in in terms of these initiatives is this idea that young people and diverse people are, you know, historically underrepresented in terms of their share of voice. So whatever we can do to amplify that is good. So to see this nice little atmosphere and have them camped out and feeding whoever wants to come by and get something to eat—hopefully that’ll inspire people to get involved and remember at the very least to vote. Because it’s not really, this isn’t really a sexy election year, so we’re doing our best to make sure people remember.

ED: That’s great…Nelson, is there anything else about yourself that you want to share with others?

N: Not really.

ED: Not really? Cool. Well, thank you. Thank you for talking with us today.

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