I pride myself on being a profesional when I’m on an assignment.
I don’t cheer at inappropriate times when I’m covering a baseball game. I don’t jeer people when I’m covering a political rally, even if it’s one featuring someone that I think is an asshole. And I don’t cry on assignment, even if it’s something emotional like a story on kids being hurt.
So I thought that I could handle covering Sen. Barack Obama’s speech accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president with no problem because (1) While I may personally think that it’s pretty damned cool that I got to see the first person of color on a major party’s presidential ticket accept his nomination, I know that my readers don’t really care what I think about stuff. That’s why I have a blog. And (2) Black journalists have taken enough of a hit for their perceived lack of objectivity this election go-around. I didn’t want to give my fellow reporters support for this position.
But most of my friends also know this about me: I’ve decided that if Senator Obama becomes President Obama, I want to take two or three busloads of Philly’s most messed up kids to Washington to see the Inauguration. Why? So that they can see what real power looks like and that it didn’t come from the barrel of a gun.
So when a reporter friend of mine called me as I was going into Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium for Obama’s speech, he asked me how many times I had cried already. I told him none, and that I wouldn’t because I’m a professional.
Showing that he knows me better than I thought he did, he asked me again. I had to confess that I did get a little weepy earlier in the day. So he gave me a little advice: You’re witnessing history, Niecy. Take it all in. Don’t just be a journalist on this one. Be an American.
It was advice that I ended up taking. I sat in seat 14, section 137 at Invesco Field, and took it all in.
And I joined many of the reporters, particularly the reporters of color, who found tears running down their faces. Some of us pretended that we were rubbing our eyes. Others just let them run. But it was one of those moments in which history smacks you upside the head, and forces you to really pay attention.
It was probably the same for the folks who covered The March on Washington, which happened 45 years ago yesterday.
And even though I was there, I saw it, and I even have pictures, I still can’t believe that I’m 44, and someone who looks like a guy that I used to date has a shot of being President of the United States. I thought that wouldn’t happen until much, much later in my life.
Shows you what I know.
I’m going home from Denver today, and will be back in my office and in my graduate school classes next week.
But when you come by my office at Temple University on Tuesday, you’ll see something on my cork board that’ll be the only outward evidence of my witnessing history: a button that says “I was there: Obama”, and my DNC press credential.
The rest I’ll be carrying around in my memory. That’s a good place for it, I think.
Take a look at the speech in case you didn’t get to see it, or if you just want to make sure that you saw what you think you saw: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream coming a baby step closer to becoming reality.