BELHAVEN, N.C. (WNCT) – During a speech at UNC Wednesday, President Obama laid into Republicans for what he and the NAACP have called efforts to disenfranchise black voters.
During the speech, he specifically mentioned a 100-year-old Belhaven woman who had her voter registration challenged in Beaufort County in October. WNCT was the first to report her story, that has now made it all the way to the president.
President Obama extended an invitation to Hardison to meet with him in Fayetteville on Friday. However, due to her age, she can’t make the trip.
“I want you think about a woman named named Grace Bell Hardison,” President Obama said. “Grace Bell lived in Belhaven, North Carolina her entire life.”
Hardison hadn’t heard the president’s comments until WNCT arrived and pulled it up on a phone. WNCT’s Josh Birch asked Hardison if she ever thought a president would talk about her.
“I sure didn’t,” she said. “Anybody that would’ve told me that I’d tell them there’s something wrong.”
Hardison was surrounded by family members as she watched the speech. It was just as emotional for them as it was for her.
“To hear her name up there and to see her facial expressions when her name was mentioned was just an indescribable feeling,” said Greg Satterthwhite, Hardison’s nephew.
Hardison’s voter registration has since been cleared, after a address mix-up was fixed. She, like President Obama, hopes her story can inspire others to vote.
She said she will never forget the day the president mentioned her story.
“To know all these presidents, all these people think about you, and love you means a whole lot. It means a whole lot.”