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#2591: Vote by vote, activist hopes to empower young minorities (fwd)


Published Sunday, February 27, 2000, in the Miami Herald MIAMI-DADE
 Vote by vote, activist hopes to empower young minorities

 Alix Desulme says politicians often overlook people like him, and he
does not like it. Desulme is young and black and he is not just giving
lip service about being underrepresented in government. He plans to
register more than 10,000 voters through Young Minorities in Action, a
political action committee he started last year to ensure that people
like him are heard. He also wants to educate minorities about the
importance of being counted in the Census.
 ``Too often, politicians ignore young people,'' Desulme said.
``Usually, when they lobby, they go to older crowds. The reason is
because they are the ones that vote. I would like that to change.''

 Desulme, 22, who was born in Haiti and lives in North Miami, also wants
to expand minority participation in politics. He said he has always been
interested in politics and community issues. Young Minorities in Action,
a nonpartisan PAC, sponsors voter-registration drives at colleges in
Miami-Dade County and organizes town hall meetings and leadership
training sessions. The PAC members hope to work with MTV's Rock
 the Vote and to bring in celebrities to promote voting.
 Last week, the group appointed state Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, D-Miami,
as its national spokeswoman to spread its message even farther. ``I'm
trying to help the organization spread to other cities throughout the
nation,'' Wilson said. ``We're trying to impress upon young people the
importance of voting.''
 Wilson said that while Miami-Dade high school seniors can register to
vote -- about 17,635 students will be registered when they graduate this
year -- few go to the polls. ``No one has encouraged them to vote,'' she
 Young Minorities in Action board members chose Wilson as spokeswoman
 because of her involvement with youth through the 500 Role Models of
Excellence Project, which she founded and which is now a Miami-Dade
County Public Schools program, Desulme said. The PAC will work with 500
Role Models to generate youth interest in politics. But that does not
mean the group will necessarily endorse Wilson during her reelection
campaign this year, Desulme said. But, Desulme said, endorsements are
not his group's primary concern.
 ``Our focus is not to tell folks who to vote for but to tell them to
vote,'' he said. Desulme said he has no plans to run for office at the
moment. A full-time student at MDCC North Campus, he will double-major
in political science and education when he enters Barry University as a
junior. He works full time as a project coordinator for the Haitian
American Foundation. ``Maybe in the future, five to 10 years from now''
he may run for office, he said. ``My goal right now is to get this [the
PAC] to be not only a statewide program but a national program.''