Ray Watches Obama Make History in St. Paul, Minnesota

4 Jun

Ray: I’m not into horoscopes at all, but several weeks ago I came across one that said I would be presented with an opportunity to travel and that it would be a great experience. A few days before that, I had been assigned to a project in Minneapolis, Minnesota for work related business. So imagine my surprise when I found out yesterday that Senator Barack Obama would be in St. Paul to wrap-up his historic primary campaign. There was no way in the world I was going to miss that.

After the day’s work in the office, I invited a few co-workers to come to the rally with me. The three of us piled into a car and drove about 15 minutes to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul where thousands of people had obviously had the same idea. As soon as we exited the highway, we were surrounded by a sea of Obama supporters and profiteers, all eagerly waiting to enter the huge sports arena.

The atmosphere was that of a great celebration. People of all ages and ethnic backgrounds were congratulating each other and singing praises of Barack Obama. Small children wore Obama t-shirts. The college girls were wearing “Obama Girl” buttons on their blouses. Some guys painted their faces blue with “OBAMA” spelled across their forehead. I heard in some news report that there were about 20,000 people there that evening but what you didn’t hear is how those 20,000 people were best friends uniting to celebrate the fact that the Democratic party finally had a champion we had all been hoping for.

Normally when you’re standing in line, it seems like you’re waiting for something. But this time, standing in line was an event itself. People were posing for each other’s pictures. Others were holding various signs of support for Obama. One sign in particular that garnered much attention was one that referred to Senator John McCain as “John McBlood”. I also watched two profiteers selling Obama memorabilia discuss the need of having a license to actually sell the items, but I don’t think any of that mattered to anyone in the crowd. We were all just happy to be there.

No ticket was needed to enter the arena. Once we passed the security screening, we proceeded to find good seats near the podium. We would have succeeded if it weren’t for the fact that others had been there hours before to get the best seats. Somehow we were still able to find pretty good seats on the lower level. 20 minutes later the arena was full.

When we found our seats, it became obvious that the festivities outside the arena was the pre-party. The real party was inside the arena. We danced to oldies funk music, gave high fives to our neighbors, and took pictures of everything. The media was camped out about 50 feet away from the podium with representatives from all over the world. People in the crowd were cheering and dancing for a chance to be seen on the jumbo-tron. Yes, my colleagues and I were one of the fortunate to accomplish the feat.

When it was time for us to actually get down to politics, we were all introduced to a Communications Professor from the University of Minnesota. First, she riled the crowd up by saying how much she loved Obama. The crowd responded with a loud cheer. But as she continued, she explained how she had a son serving in Iraq and that she was constantly concerned for his safety. She explained that Obama is her choice because she believes that his leadership is needed to end the war in Iraq and rebuild America’s reputation in the world. The crowd cheered again but the cheering rose to an even higher level when she introduced Barack and Michelle Obama to the stage.

I must say, the first thing that I noticed was how gorgeous Michelle Obama is! She wore a stunning purple dress as she escorted Senator Obama to the podium. After waving to the crowd and smiling for pictures, she hugged him and gave him a ‘dap’ (also referred to as a ‘pound’ – a gesture made popular in urban communities where one person balls their fist and pounds the fist of another as a show of support and solidarity). Forget Brad and Angelina, Barack and Michelle are the hottest couple on the planet.

Barack Obama went into his speech where he thanked and applauded Hillary Clinton for conducting a great campaign. Next, he declared himself the Democratic candidate for President and received a thunderous applause. He then went into attacking Senator McCain, aka ‘McBlood’ on his political policy. All of this was expected. But once again, I noticed something that the media doesn’t seem to really capture. That is, Barack Obama and his supporters genuinely have a burning desire to see change in this country.

When he said that above all other labels, we’re Americans first, I could see in the eyes of everyone around me that they had bought in to this philosophy. It became apparent that Barack Obama is much more than a politician. He is an icon. He is the symbol for unity. He represents an idea of a country that has not yet realized it’s full potential because of it’s history of division.

What Martin Luther King Jr. did for Black people, Obama will do for America. What Susan B. Anthony did for women, Obama will do for America. He empowers people by giving them the ability to hope and to dream again. By no means am I suggested that his Presidency will be full of nothing but happiness and peace. I think he’ll actually have a very difficult time simply because the world is in a different state after the Bush administration caused so much damage. But he recognizes this as well.

Near the end of his speech, Barack Obama said something that really stood out in my view. He said that this is our time to make history so that generations from now, our children will look back to this point and proclaim that we were the generation of change. In other words, the seeds we plant now will have a drastic impact on future generations. As we all know, seeds must be planted, nurtured, and protected in order for them to grow and become something greater.

Last night, I witnessed history as we tilled the soil. In November, we’ll make history again when we plant the seed.

Note: I’ll be posting my own pictures as soon as I get back to LA!

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