I asked a friend that day, Who's Obama? What's up here? Eyes lit up and one of them actually said to me:
"He is going to be our next Senator and he is our country's best hope for a great future!"
I thought to myself two things. First, those are pretty bold words about someone I hadn't yet really heard of in my already pretty wide political circles. Second, anyone who had garnered that much support and that kind of enthusiam in such a short period of time, is someone I wanted to know more about.
By late spring, the buzz was crazy. This new guy has a vision! When he speaks he stirs the core of your love for this country. The news was just starting to pick up the story and everything I read and saw about him was exciting. Then, I went to the Convention in Boston and for the first time on that floor, I heard him give his now famous speech. I saw nearly all the speeches at the convention live from the floor as a delegate and NO ONE electrified the crowd like this young African American from Illinois! People around me were in tears and shouting themselves hoarse. They were excited into a frenzy and from that moment on, we all knew that win or lose THAT November, the party had a future brighter than any of us had imagined.
The delegates, the country and the world were introduced that night to the results
- of the civil rights movements of the 70's,
- of the Voting Rights Act battles of the 60's,
- of Dr. King, Malcolm, and Dr. Lowery,
- of the lunch counter sit ins of the 50's,
- of Brown v Board of Education,
- of the Tuskegee Airmen,
- of my own father who fought bravely in the Korean War a decorated hero, shot down three times over the Pacific, only to return to a society that was still very much separate and unequal,
- of my grandfather who helped build the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West and my great-grandmother who secretly taught her children and grandchildren to read and write by the time they were 5 years old,
- of Frederick Douglas,
- and of the Civil War.
Well, as a child of the 60's and 70's, I remember the dream. I was raised with it. I kept up as best as I could as my parents taught me to dream along the 16th Street Viaduct.
I met Obama shortly after the convention at a rally in Milwaukee. Humble and friendly, he stayed after his speech until everyone who wanted a picture or a signature got one. Everytime he speaks, tears of joy rush into my eyes.
I had the pleasure of seeing Obama live again today.
Today, it was a brisk Halloween morning in Milwaukee. The kind of Fall Wisconsin day that makes you happy you never moved South. The sun shining bright and warm on your face and the leaves crunching under your feet.
The candidates got up one by one and gave their speeches. Kathleen Falk (attorney general candidate) and Barbara Lawton (lt governor) glowed in the morning sun and gave rousing campaign speeches that made me proud to be a progressive. Herb Kohl, usually so quiet reminded me that his voice is louder when used strategically, than many others who speak loudly and get nothing done.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore, well, what can I say, Gwen stole the show. That is one powerful woman! She had the crowd riled up and ready to go!
Gov Doyle gave a great speech also. I am scared that Mark Green that crazy son-of-a-b*tch who's screwed up the country on a national stage and now wants to try to screw up Wisconsin has any chance at all of beating Governor Doyle.
Finally, Obama was again masterful! The crowd was in the 1,000's and that many people that fired up is always a treat.
Run Obama Run! We will all be better for you having the Audacity to Hope!