Michelle Obama: ‘We Must Work Like Never Before’!

Michelle Obama: ‘We Must Work Like Never Before’!

By Hazel Trice Edney

 

 

 

30,000 Cheer First Lady on First Night of the DemocraticConvention   CHARLOTTE, N.C. – First Lady Michelle Obama wowed the crowd in Charlotte Tuesday night, Sept. 4,drawing tears and chants from an audience of 30,000 at the start of theDemocratic National Convention. “For Barack, success isn’tabout how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’slives,” she said, obviously contrasting the President with MillionaireMitt Romney, the Republican Presidential candidate who touts his business andfinancial success as among the reasons he’d be good for America. “I knowfrom experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters– and for all of our sons and daughters, if we want to give all of ourchildren a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of theirpromise, if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility — thatbelief that here in America, there is always something better out there ifyou’re willing to work for it then we must work like never before!” {{more}} The audience exploded with applausefor the First Lady, who is hugely popular across the country. Speaking onopening night, she brought a major touch of glamour with substance toCharlotte’s Time-Warner Arena where the audience had increasingly packed in upto the rafters in anticipation of her speech. It was a crucial moment for theObama campaign as Republicans who convened in Tampa last week had successfullystirred their base, decreasing the gaps in some polls in which the Presidenthas been clearly leading among voters. Though the level of excitement at theDemocratic Convention is not the same as in Denver four years ago during theanticipation of the nation’s first Black president, it was clear after MichelleObama’s speech that the momentum is peaking once again. “You’re not going to have thatsame energy four years later. You’re just not. He’s not the first BlackPresident anymore, but people are fired up and ready to go,” said the Rev.Earl Johnson, pastor of Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. However,he predicts that the “clear contrast” between the Obamas and theRomneys will be the greatest inspiration for Democrats and some undecidedvoters. “It was a major contrastbetween her and Ann Romney tonight. Of course that’s the picture she wanted topaint – that her family and Ann Romney’s family are strikingly different. Thedifference is that her husband is going to look out for the middle class, lookout for the poor, look out for those that need a hand up and the other familyis not,” said Johnson. “I think the speeches all day longdemonstrated that Democrats, progressives and those who love this country areready to give Obama four more years and to keep moving forward in the directionwe’re going now.” Among the stark difference here inCharlotte is also the diversity of the people attending the convention. Peopleof all ages, races and walks of life were clearly represented as opposed to thevastly White attendance at the Republican Convention in Tampa last week.Perhaps the best description of the mood in Charlotte was given by a17-year-old volunteer for the Obama campaign. “Four years ago, it was aboutthe changing of the guards. Now it’s about the guarding of the change,”said Ron Busby Jr., a student at Georgetown Prep School in Washington, D.C.Busby was experiencing his first convention with his father, Ron Busby Sr.,president of the U. S. Black Chamber of Commerce. The major challenge for the Obamacampaign will be to communicate such that his primary base, largely Black voterswill become excited again. Though the past four years have brought strides inthe economy, health care and international successes, there has been a seasonof apathy due to a stubborn economy and consistently high unemployment ratesamong African-Americans. “I think the energy isbuilding,” said Marvin Dickerson of the National Executive Committee ofthe 100 Black Men of America. “I think all the speakers tonight reallybegan to tell the story of the first four years of President Barack Obama andit’s starting to lay out his accomplishments. And I think that when the storyhas been clearly told, there will be no question that this has been a presidentthat – despite all the barriers and odds that have been thrown his way,including the unfortunate hand that he was left by the previous administration- he has still methodically moved this country forward.” Telling the story on the first nightwas an all-star agenda of Democrats, including Massachusetts Gov. DevalPatrick; San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; a keynote, and all of the Democraticwomen in Congress standing on stage together. Each speaker laid out PresidentObama’s slate of successes, which included his saving of General Motors frombankruptcy; his increases in student aid like Pell grants; his support of awoman’s right to choose an abortion; his success with the Affordable Carehealth care act, his first act of signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act for women tohave equal pay for equal work; and his killing of Osama Bin Laden. The anticipation continued to riseas former President Bill Clinton was to speak on Wednesday night, nominatingPresident Obama, who was set to speak on Thursday. “I was so impressed with allthe speeches,” said Ron Busby Sr., president of the U. S. Black Chamber ofCommerce. “It was an inclusive host of speakers from all nationalities toall races, to all genders, sexualities and preferences from across the countrythat spoke to everyone across America about all issues that we share in commonabout a future that looks like us as opposed to a previous past that looks likethem. This is our opportunity to continue the movement that we have built onfor the last five to six years and we are just so excited about being here inthis movement of changing the guard verses guarding the change.” Having watched her husband handlethe presidency, Michelle Obama says she loves him more now than ever. “He has seen first-hand thatbeing president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are,” shesaid. “So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren’t political — they’repersonal. Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knowswhat it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids. Barack knowsthe American Dream because he’s lived it.” Moments after First Lady Michellewalked off the stage and the lights lowered for the closing remarks and prayer,chants erupted from the crowd waving Obama 2012 placards: “Fired up! Readyto go! Fired up! Ready to go!” Concluded Shirley Newsome ofChicago, “It was what we expected. It was what we needed.”