I was thrilled and honored to be one of the people in the convention hall for the final night of the DNC, it certainly was a once in a lifetime experience.
I have a fear of flying… MAJOR. I am usually white knuckled, drafting my last will and testament on an air sick bag, scratching the skin off the forearm of my aisle neighbor, and regularly pushing my seat light to ask the flight attendant nonsensical questions like, “Excuse me, can turbulence make the plane crash?” All the while, I am holding a “binky” (pictures are forthcoming) of to comfort me. I use to be a fearless flyer, but one day had an epiphany that I was hostage to a hunk of metal hurling through the air that I had zero control over. Previously, I was under the delusion that I had some control. So, my binky saves the day! Today, I also plan to experiment (before take off) for the first time with something called… Blue Cow, The Original Relaxation without Drowsiness. Has anyone ever sampled this concoction? Wish me luck! Irreverent comedian Jimmy Tingle just walked into the airport to an enthusiastic reception from the MA Delegation. Thank God HE doesn’t know about my Binky… at least not yet, anyway.
I am at the airport in Charlotte, NC heading home in an hour. I am looking forward to returning to my Dorchester home, and of course, to City Hall. That being said, the DNC proved to be a reunion, a renewing and inspiring experience, and a part of me is truly sad to leave… maybe even annoyed. Like any trip, the second you finally (sigh) acclimate yourself to your new temporary home, and culture, it is time to go. I was thrilled to find that the Democratic Metropolis that was the DNC has been transplanted to Charlotte’s Airport. In a span of an hour I’ve had meaningful conversations with our fearless leader Governor Deval Patrick, female MC hiphop pioneer “Salt” from Salt N Pepa, dynamic Philadelphia State Representative Kenyatta Johnson, and MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell, and last but certainly not least, the incomparable, nationally regarded political operative and strategist, MarDee Xifaras. I know that I gave MarDee a big shout out, but hey, she deserves it, and I am not just saying that because she treated me to lunch at Phillips, a wannabe Legal Seafoods really. Sadly, because my blackberry refused to cooperate (I’m close to waving the white flag and finally getting that IPhone) I was unable to visually capture these moments. I wanted to be your airport paparazzi, alas, technology was not on my side. Good thing, I’ve the stories and the memories to draw from and revisit, and eventually to share with you via blog post. I promise, at least several more posts are coming. Bear with nme ya’ll. And yes, I said ya’ll, and not because I’ve been in NC all week, I always have…
It has been a full day and I’ve got lots of updates to add to this blog. Jesse and I are about to head over the the convention hall. We’re leaving so early because of our near miss last night, and because things are going to be extra crowded given the switch to the smaller, indoor venue.
I’m going to use some of the down time we have at the center to update this more fully, but for now some quick, fun things.
First things first. I am no fool. I was looking for a little something to buy Jesse as a gift, and came across this Charlotte/DNC apron. For the uninformed, Jesse is addicted to baking. She loves an excuse to bake cookies, or if she is humoring me a cake. Don’t tell her, but I’m hoping that this apron will inspire her to at the very least bake me some peanut butter cookies.
Also, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas arrived in Charlotte today for the big speech this evening. Jesse and I ran into her in the hotel lobby. The last time we saw her together was at Boston Pride. The picture we took there is on David Bernstein’s MAPoli With Animals blog! If only Toby G was with us today, we could have had a repeat performance. o
I couldn’t if I tried! Last night was in a word, dramatic. Jesse and my Council colleagues: Tito Jackson, Felix Arroyo, and myself/I, almost didn’t get into the arena. While we were waiting in line, we received word that the fire marshall was shutting the doors. Felix and I were nervously texting with the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, (MDP) Clare Kelly for close to an hour as we tried to wrap our minds around the problem. The MDP had blown our minds just two days before with the invitation and ask for Felix and I to announce the ballots cast for our delegation during the historic roll call of the states. And now, it looked very likely that we would not only miss an incredible night in the arena, and a personally important one for our delegation (with Elizabeth Warren on the scheduled line up) but also, as if all of that wasn’t already too much to consider, it was looking very likely we would miss the rarefied chance to proudly represent our Party and our Commonwealth in this special way. We had been nervously preparing for our close up all day, and calling family and friends asking them to tune into the DNC prime time. The scene outside was muggy, and there were some rabble rousers trying to corrupt the rest of us patiently waiting (albeit nervous) Dems. Tito likes to refer to them as the crazy uncle at the family reunion that everyone has. People were yelling, “Organize! There’s more of us than there are of them!” “Let us in, Let us in”. What can I tell you? Dems love a cause. After much prayer, many phone calls, and even some respectful pushing by Tito, (a former full back before his Council days) we made it in. I was grateful, nervous and emotional… As many of you know, I am the only child of a single parent. My mother, best friend, and personal shero, passed away a year ago from leukemia. My mother, (Sandy) affectionately referred to as “Mama Pressley” in Beantown was a faithful Democrat. The only thing she loved more than God and her baby girl, was her Democratic Party. One of her final acts of activism (before her death a mere 7 weeks later) was to change her voter registration from New York (where she had gotten re-married, and lived for a decade, we originally hail from Chicago, as you know) to Massachusetts, Ward 16 precint 8 specifically. She was so looking forward to casting a ballot for the very first time for her “baby girl”, and doing it as a Massachusetts Democrat, and one who was soon to call Dorchester (which she loved) her home. Sadly, that was not God’s plan for her… At the age of 63, “Mama Pressley” lost her battle with leukemia leaving me with a soul ache and a heart break that some days cripples me… As I finally entered that arena last night, she was all that I could think about… I’ll finish this blog later, sorry to leave folks hanging, but I’ve to get to the final MA Delegation Breakfast of the DNC.
I know I already tweeted about this (and the great “Vote like your life depends on it” t-shirt I got!), but earlier today I was part of a dynamic panel sponsored by BET called “This Moment Matters.” It was a thrill to be a part of the same slate as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and pollster/strategist Cornell Belcher. High profile national journalist TJ Holmes moderated.
This all came about because a month ago I facilitated a discussion hosted by BET and Higher Ground in Massachusetts. It was about one of my sheros: Shirley Chisholm. The event was called “The Chisholm Effect,” and it brought together black women leaders from across the country to reflect on the impact of the great Shirley Chisholm on politics and leadership. I immediately hit it off with the folks from BET, and I was flattered and excited when they reached out to me to be a part of today’s BET/DNC activities.
TJ Holmes challenged those of us on the panel to go beyond soundbites on vital issues like the wealth gap, voter supression, voter apathy, and what’s at stake this November. Before the panel took the stage, BET CEO Debra Lee and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett spoke and got the crowd fired up. Tough acts to follow!
The audience was a who’s who. I chatted with more people than I could count, but managed to get this quick picture with Roland Martin. Jesse is mad at me because I also saw former Cosby kid Keisha Knight Pulliam, and she wasn’t there to meet her.