In a packed room with standing room only, Alabama House minority leader Rep. Anthony Daniels visited a meeting of the College Democrats at Auburn University Wednesday night.
Most of Daniels' time was spent interacting with college students to ask them why they do not plan to stay in the state after they graduate from Auburn.
Daniels encouraged students to stay in Alabama to better the state.
“Every movement that has been successful in this country has been led by young people," Daniels said. "Either we sit down and just talk about and gripe about the problems and the issues that exist within Alabama or we step up and do something about it.”
Daniels said he wants to work with students to know what will make them want to stay in Alabama.
“It takes an army, it takes a lot of us," Daniels said. "So, my plea to each and every one of you in this room is let’s identify areas that will help us make a decision to stay in Alabama.”
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Daniels said he feels communication is a necessary step and held a long discussion with the group about changes students would like to see in order to keep them in the state post-graduation.
“I think that we need to talk to them more," Daniels said. "I don’t think this should be a
Daniels stayed after his speech to talk more individually with students. President of Auburn University College Democrats Weston Sims and the one who invited the politician to Auburn to speak stayed after the event to speak with Daniels.
“I’ve seen him speak at other College Democrats’ events and I thought he did a really good job," Sims said. "So, I thought it would be awesome to start the year off with him here.”
Sims said one thing he hoped to get from Daniels’ speech was energy to go forward into the 2018 elections.
“I hope to keep the momentum going from the Doug Jones campaign," Sims said. "I hope that we can carry that into the gubernatorial race this year and also the midterms."
This was the first College Democrats meeting since Doug Jones’ historic victory in Alabama. Daniels assured the group that Jones' victory was not
“If you think that the Democratic party elected Doug Jones, then you’re wrong," Daniels said. "It was ordinary organizations and ordinary people that organized in their neighborhoods and their homes that said they were not going to stand for Alabama to be embarrassed anymore.”
Daniels advised students that are involved and looking for new tactics to get involved in politics. He implored students to use these tactics to push for a change in Alabama.
“I would say host forums on campus," Daniels said. "Understand where the candidates are (so) you’re engaged in the process and that you’re at the table not on the table."
Daniels encouraged students to organize themselves and get engaged in policy by writing letters to campaigns, representatives and the governor. He also advised sending questionnaires to the candidates running for office.
Sims has been one of those students actively involved in the political process and encouraged other students to get involved
“I think going to something like a College Democrats meeting is a great idea,” Sims said. “You can come here, and we do like different political events around the state–we go to different rallies (and) we have connections with the representatives."
Sims said it is good to be involved in the organization and use it as a pipeline for gaining an internship with a representative.
While Daniels wants to hear from students and the changes they would like to see, he already has some changes of his own in mind. He addressed his agenda for this legislative session and some changes he is hoping to make in Alabama this year.
“I hope that we address legislation that deals with the opioid crisis,” Daniels said. “I hope that we address some prison issues as it relates to prison reform and reducing recidivism. I hope that we address issues that deal with our education to close the achievement gap, making certain that we're rewarding our educators – paying them, giving them raises. Helping those individuals that committed their time to our schools that are now retired.”
Daniels has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since his election in 2014 from a newly created district that came from the redistricting process.
Daniels was selected as the minority leader of the state House of Representatives at the age 34, making him the youngest person to serve in the position in the history of the Alabama legislature according to
After growing up in Midway, Alabama, Daniels attended Alabama A&M University where he received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in special education, according to
Daniels worked as an elementary teacher for several years and went on to become the first black man to be elected to serve as chair of the National Education Association Student Program. He now runs a small business in North Alabama according to an Alabama Political Reporter article published on Feb. 9.
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