I was an ex-Californian living in one of those conservative seasonal ski towns in Colorado. At that point, I had basically given up, because it seemed that everyone around me was a Bush supporter. I honestly felt like a fish out of water. One day Bret, my news junkie boyfriend passed over the audio of Barack Obama’s February 28, 2006 speech at the Governor’s Ethanol Coalition on energy independence. I was blown away. This was the first time I had ever heard anyone speak so clearly about energy independence. He had a plan, and I actually believed that his plan could work.
That next summer, we road tripped to New York and Montreal. We stopped in Nashville to visit Bret’s brother on our way home. We woke the next morning with news that there was a rally for Harold Ford Jr. downtown and that Barack Obama was going to be there.
That Sunday morning was the most authentic southern experience I could ever ask for. The crowd was small and it seemed that most people had come straight from church. Many people were equipped with a Bible in one hand and the “Audacity of Hope” in the other. Their hands were up as though they were receiving every word. They were swaying, moaning, and agreeing with the occasional “that’s right!” I am not too familiar with the southern way, so it was kind of strange to see how a Sunday political rally for a black man in the south went.
Barack is an eloquent speaker. Some things he said that day in Nashville, really hit home. He said, “What takes risk is to believe that the world as it is, is not the world as it has to be,” and that “the conventional wisdom of the past is not the wisdom of the future.” I found myself standing there remembering all those things my mom taught me as a little girl; reminded of the power of positive thought, reminded that that my entire life was ahead of me, then and now. He told me that the government should be something that the people trust, and government should be a reflection of the people.
Barack Obama was not a very common household name at the time. This was before he had announced his candidacy. He said, “They called me Alabama, they called me your momma. They said it couldn’t happen.” I left the square feeling great that day, totally inspired; hope was pumping through my blood. Bret picked up a pin from a vendor that read, “Democratic Leadership, Barack Obama.” We laughed and Bret said, “Oh my gosh! Obama is going to run for President.” I never imagined it happening in my lifetime, but it is happening. If Barack Obama becomes our president, I can finally be proud to be an American. I believe in him because I want to believe in my country.
Dominique R. Jackson (34)