This Denver Nugget

Taking my friend’s advice

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.

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"Tina" Takes the Stage

As I was going into the Pepsi Center in Denver for the Democratic National Convention last night, I ran into Bob Johnson, the founder of BET Networks and one of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s biggest supporters.

(We could talk about how contradictory it is that Clinton, a woman who considers herself an ardent feminist, is taking campaign contributions from Johnson, a man who made his millions encouraging the degredation of African American women through music videos, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

When I asked him what he thought she was going to say, Johnson said that Clinton would take one for the Democratic team and tell her supporters to throw their weight behind Sen. Barack Obama for president.

“I think that what she’s going to say is that this county is in need of new leadership,” he said. “It needs leadership that cares about the issues that she campaigned on and that her 18 million supporters are concerned about. She’s going to make the case that Barack Obama has that kind of leadership and ask her supporters to support him without question.”

For the most part, Clinton did just that when she ended the night at the DNC. She gave a rousing speech that caused the sign-waving crowd to stand up and cheer….
…..and thus saved her ass within the Democratic Party.

The “Tina” half of the “Ike and Tina Turner of Politics” delivered such lines as “No way, no how, no McCain.” and “I’m a proud supporter of Barack Obama” and did them with a straight face. She namechecked Harriet Tubman and even sounded like she meant it when she told her supporters that if they supported her issues, they had to vote for Obama.

But, when Hillary went on one of those “as a matter of fact, it is about me” tears that talked about all of the reasons why she ran for president, I saw a look from Michelle Obama that only a person who was raised by a black woman would recognize.

It was the “Don’t make me have to come down there and beat your ass” look. Having gotten that look many a time in my life from my mom as a kid (and sometimes even as an adult), I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if the next time that Michelle was shown, she would have been minus her earrings….and Hillary would have had to get another pantsuit.

While I would like to believe that Hillary Clinton is going to go gentle into that good night now that she’s been given a prime-time speaking slot and acknowledgement in the DNC’s roll call, she’s gonna have to do a lot more to convince a lot of folks…and believe me, the streets, as they say, will be watching.

But don’t take my word for it, see the speech for yourself if you missed it:

The good, the bad, and the weird…

First of all, it bugs the hell out of me that the so-called “Free Speech” zone at this convention is a cage that’s kept so far away from the Pepsi Center that it makes you feel like you’re in another country….one that doesn’t necessarily value freedom of speech.

But now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, here’s some of the stuff that I’ve learned over the last couple of days.

1-Conventions bring out the strangest folks possible. I mentioned in my first post from here in Denver that I saw, among other things, a truck with a sign on the side that has Barack Obama on one side and a dead fetus on the other. A couple with a similar sign was stationed out in front of the Colorado Convention Center.

My sources here in Denver say that this couple walked into the African American Caucus meeting and started calling Obama a baby killer, something that came real close to starting a riot and led to them being escorted out by security.

I caught up with the folks with the sign today and asked them the obvious question, which was “Where in the hell did you get the picture of the dead fetus?” Apparently, Randall Terry of the pro-life organization Operation Rescue likes to hand them out to folks.

I then asked what proof that they had that Obama himself killed any babies, and they pointed to his pro-choice voting record. I decided to discontinue the conversation once the guy, who was from Iowa, started to cry and tell me that he would lay down his life for the unborn and that God would take his life if he didn’t come here to protest.

Now why these guys got a prime spot in front of the convention center and Recreate 68, a group committed to having demonstrations about everything from the war in Iraq to a possible dust up with Iran, is relegated to a cage behind the Pepsi Center is beyond me.

2-If I ever meet Osama Bin Laden, I’m bitch slapping him because his fucking terrorist attack has made security so tight here that it’s really pissing me off! I’ve been searched so much that I feel like I’m at the damned airport and SWAT teams are literally on every corner. I feel like I’m in Prague.

But then again, some news that came out yesterday kind of makes me glad that some of this crap is in place. You see, some of my “friends” in the White Supremacist community have come to play, complete with guns and ammo.

Anyone who doesn’t know what that means, pay close attention: white supremacists+black candidate for president+guns and ammo=assasination attempt.

I’m not surprised by this bit of news, but it does break my heart. Why? Just why?

and…

3-I missed Michelle Obama’s speech last night. Apparently, it was very good and she acquitted herself well.

For those of you who are like me and missed the speech, here it is, thanks to my folks from YouTube.

Be back a little later with reaction to Hillary Clinton’s speech tonight. Should be interesting.

Where the air is thin…

Greetings from Denver, home of the Democratic National Convention.
I got here late Saturday night, went to my so-far-from-Denver-my-friend-had-to-rent-a-car hotel, and have been trying to make sense of all of the festivities ever since.

I’ll be bringing the speeches, protests and other shenanigans that make up the DNC to you as I get a moment to breathe between things. The gavel goes down at 3 p.m. today and folks promise to have us out by 9 p.m. Denver time, which is 11 p.m. eastern time, 8 p.m. Pacific time and 10 p.m. central.

I wouldn’t bet on that. I’ve seen the speakers list. Verbose is the nicest thing I can say.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to ask these folks outside the convention center why they’re showing me pictures of dead fetuses while I’m trying to find some lunch.