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  Poll rally stars Beyoncé, Jay Z and Hillary Clinton

Poll rally stars Beyoncé, Jay Z and Hillary Clinton

NEW YORK TIMES | YAMICHE ALCINDOR AND AMY CHOZICK
Published : Nov 6, 2016, 7:14 am IST
Updated : Nov 6, 2016, 7:14 am IST

Singer Beyonce, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and rapper Jay Z during a 'Get Out The Vote' concert at Wolstein Centre in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo: AFP)

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Singer Beyonce, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and rapper Jay Z during a 'Get Out The Vote' concert at Wolstein Centre in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo: AFP)

In an election year when Hillary Clinton is depending on young black voters to turn out, she may have gotten her biggest boost yet here on Friday.

Some of the most famous names in hip-hop came out to rally votes for her at an event that featured Beyoncé, Jay Z and Chance the Rapper, all of whom implored thousands of cheering people to back the Democratic presidential nominee. “Hello, Cleveland!”Ms Clinton said as she stood onstage with Beyoncé and Jay Z. Ms Clinton called Beyoncé “a woman who is an inspiration” and thanked Jay Z “for addressing in his music some of our biggest challenges in the US: poverty, racism, the urgent need for criminal justice reform.” “When I see them here, this passion and energy and intensity, I don’t even know where to begin because this is what America is, my friends,” she said. The challenges facing Ms Clinton were on display on Friday. When she took the stage and began making the case for her candidacy, dozens of people began leaving the arena, the performance now over. Still, Jay Z tried to argue that her rival, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, was not fit to be president. “I don’t have any ill will toward him, but his conversation is divisive,” he said. “He can’t be my President. He can’t be our President.”

Beyoncé took the stage just before 10pm, and after singing “Formation,” she put Ms Clinton’s candidacy into the context of women’s suffrage and the feminist movement.

“I want my daughter to grow up seeing a woman leading the country,” Beyoncé said to roars from the crowd. “That’s why I’m with her,” she added, using Ms Clinton’s campaign slogan. The concert had a similar, though subdued, feel to one of Barack Obama’s closing events in Cleveland in 2008, when a largely black crowd waited for Bruce Springsteen to finish to get to the real star: Obama. “This is historic, this is a moment in time,” rapper Big Sean said.

“Make some noise if you’re registered to vote,” he told the crowd, as an image of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. appeared on the oversize screens flanking the stage and he sang “One Man Can Change the World.”

Chris Stevens, 29, of Cleveland, said he was a “big Hillary Clinton fan” and expressed confidence she would win on Tuesday. Signs of what might be a close race were reflected in his family, however. Mr Stevens, his wife and his parents plan to vote for Ms Clinton, but he said his 37-year-old brother, who is a police officer and runs a small business as a DJ, plans to vote for Mr Trump because he believes he would be good for business owners. Mr Stevens was left baffled by his brother’s choice.

“I can’t, as a black man, vote for Donald Trump,” he said. “I keep telling him, ‘Donald Trump is not going to help you.’ But he keeps saying, ‘Donald Trump is for business.’”

Other performers, including Steve Aoki, Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder and Ne-Yo, are also hosting get-out-the-vote concerts for Ms Clinton. The events come as Ms Clinton is trying to motivate people in Ohio to vote early. Younger voters are shunning the two major political parties on a scale not seen since Ross Perot’s third-party bid for the presidency in 1992, a striking swing in public opinion that is cutting into Clinton’s thin margin for error.

Location: United States, Ohio, Cleveland