Monday, September 1, 2008

We Are The Change We've Been Waiting For

8/28/08 - DAY FOUR

I have a ticket.

Never mind how. Never mind why. The less you know the safer you'll be.

I'm up at dawn. In a week of sleep-deprivation, this isn't significant, but it's the first time I've bothered to to look out the window of the apartment I'm sharing with Dave and Mary. The eastward-facing skyline is beautifully lit by the rising sun. 
It seems fitting for this day.

Much later in the morning, Mary and I head downtown to meet Dave at the Big Tent. We take the bus down to the 16th Street Mall with the intention of taking the tram the last half mile, but when we get there, the station is closed due to some out-of-control "demonstrators" who are blocking the road. 

However, when we walk the length of the Mall, it's quickly apparent it's not a demonstration. It's a mob. The 70,000 souls anticipated for Obama's speech tonight have started streaming into the city. Every street near downtown is packed with people. The medians are clogged with vendors trying to sell their last buttons and T-shirts, the sidewalks with tourists trying to catch a glimpse of Matthew Modine or Spike Lee. We squeeze through the crowd, and are lucky enough to happen on a blues band from New Orleans called the "To Be Continued Brass Band"

We finally hook up with Dave and some other friends and make our way to the stadium. We try to take the light rail, which is supposed to stop at Mile High, but the train keeps going until we get to the next stop. We get off and walk to what we think is the end of the line, until we're redirected around a corner, and see what the real line looks like:

The end of the line is more than a mile from the stadium entrance. And it isn't moving. It's 2 o'clock when we take our places and I'm seriously beginning to wonder if we'll make it in time for the main speeches, which are scheduled to start around six.

Finally, after about a half an hour, the line starts to motivate. The closer we get to the stadium, the faster the line seems to move, until it feels like we're almost sprinting at the end. I peel off from Mary and Dave, who have press passes and use another entrance, and suddenly I'm on my own in this sea of humanity. 

After two hours I make it into the stadium. I'm here. 

This night, as I hear Obama speak the words, "It's not about me, it's about you." to 84,000 people at the stadium and another 38 million nationwide, two stories will come full circle for me. The second story started 17 months ago when I first saw Obama in person speak at the California Democratic Convention in San Diego in April, 2007.  I knew then and there this was the candidate I'd support, not because I thought he'd be a miracle worker who'd lead our country to a better place, but because he expected us to lead him there. 

The first story, started 45 years ago. My mother, who was 39 at the time, and pregnant with me, stood on the Mall in Washington D.C. and listened to another African American leader who also inspired through words.

Mom would go on to become an activist in her community, and would work with her African American neighbors down the road from us, teaching photography and pottery. 

Today, at age 84, dimmed but not dulled by late-stage emphysema, she makes calls for Obama to Virginia, a swing state. 


Barack Obama's historic speech - from the cheap seats....

To see other photos from the day, check out my online gallery

No comments:

Post a Comment