LAURINBURG — When Hillary Clinton takes the stage tonight to accept the Democratic nomination for president and give the biggest speech of her political career, Laurinburg native John Easterling III will be there.
The 19-year-old, who is in Philadelphia as an at-large delegate to the DNC, said he can’t wait.
“I’m so happy to be here as a delegate because in 2008 I sat on the sidelines as a young sixth grader in rural North Carolina,” Easterling said. “But this year, I get to sit on the front lines and actually see history take place.”
Easterling was one of 4,763 delegates present for the roll call vote on Tuesday that gave Clinton the nomination. While there has been some division with rival Bernie Sanders supporters booing speakers and protesting in the streets, the Scotland High graduate said the party is coming together.
“There are an overwhelming number of Hillary supporters inside the convention and everyday more and more Bernie supporters are joining Hillary to create a more unified party to defeat Trump,” he said.
Easterling wants to see Clinton work on gender inequality and racial injustice in the United States. He serves as the current College Democrats of America Black Caucus Chair. He has also served as Minority Affairs chairman for the 8th District Democratic Party; chairman at CDNC Rural Caucus and chairman at Young Democrats of America High School Caucus.
Clinton’s platform promises to work to close the wage gap and pass the “Paycheck Fairness Act.” Clinton also promises to increase minimum wage across the country and combat violence against women, specifically working to address sexual assault on college campuses. The platform also includes plans to end systemic racism and close the racial wealth gap.
“I’m just happy to be part of such a great party that has been so inclusive to people like me from my background of rural North Carolina and African American,” he said. “I’m happy to be a Democrat.”
So far this week, Easterling has had a chance to meet national figures like U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who was on the short list to be Clinton’s vice president; Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee and Trayvon Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, who is from Lumberton.
He also participated in a televised roundtable discussion on “Capitol Tonight”and was also able to give a 25-second shout out on C-SPAN — Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network — detailing why he supports Clinton.
“This is my first convention and it’s awesome,” he said. “I am meeting a lot of people, networking, and making new connections. It is great to see all walks of life standing together, no matter their race, religion or income.”
Easterling is currently studying at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro where he is double majoring in Political Science and History.
State Rep. Garland Pierce was expected to join Easterling and other fellow Democrats to observe the action in Philadelphia, but had to cancel his plans.
He said he will be watching tonight’s speech by the nominee at home.
The Wagram legislator said he was proud that his party will be making history again with the first female nominee. President Barack Obama was the party’s first black nominee in 2008.
“We are a big tent with a lot of diversity,” he said.