I’m no fool.

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. ImageImage

Advertisements

Let People Vote

My parents live in the swing state of Pennsylvania, and have a bumper sticker on their car that says “Let People Vote.” It seems like a ridiculously simple thing to have to advocate for, in this country of all places. Yet, in 2012 we find ourselves in a nightmarish time machine where voting rights in America are under attack in a way they haven’t been for decades. 

This morning I went to a panel on Protecting Voting Rights 2012, put on by the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. To say that it was an all-star panel would be selling it short. Congressmen Steny Hoyer and John Lewis, Donna Brazile, America Ferrera representing Voto Latino, Arlene Holt Baker from the AFL-CIO, Ben Jealous of the NAACP, Heather Smith from Rock The Vote, my friend Judith Browne-Dianis from The Advancement Project (Judith is fantastic, and is on the Board of Directors of an organization I used to be the Executive Director of – FairTest), and Bob Bauer and Courtney Wheeler from the voter protection operation at OFA. 

It was energizing, scary, sobering, and clarifying. The scope of the voter suppression schemes that are being conceived of and in some cases implemented across this country is unfathomable. It became evident quite quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to do this topic or this group of people justice if I tried to summarize what they were talking about, so I started to scribble notes on my program in the hope that I could just quote them instead. 

This is my best shot:

Heather Smith:

  • We have a “civic crisis in our country.”
  • “84% of students in Pennsylvania don’t have the ID required for them to vote.”

America Ferrera:

  • “Every single person who is going to be at a polling place needs to take responsibility for the rights of our community.”

Judith Browne-Dianis:

  • “They don’t care. They are brazen …. Our voting rights are the true issue for our democracy, and what we’re about as a country.”
  • “These laws will be around for a while. They change the rules.”
  • “The margin of victory in 2008 in Pennsylvania was less than the number of people who don’t have IDs in that state.”

Donna Brazile:

  • “I have never seen anything like this in my life … thought these days were done.”
  • “2012 is the nightmare we never expected to see.”

Melissa Harris-Perry

  • “We have a President who was asked to show his papers. We now have an entire electorate being asked to show their papers.”
  • “I lay awake thinking about this going to the John Roberts Supreme Court.”

I’m leaving a ton of things out – because there was so much to absorb, because I couldn’t write fast enough, and because I can’t read a lot of my own writing – but trust me when I tell you it was powerful. Congressman Steny Hoyer opened the session by pointing out that 25% of Americans – that’s 80 million people – don’t have a government issued ID. That pretty much says it all in terms of how huge of an issue this is.

A bunch of the speakers hammered home that the Obama campaign has put together the most sophisticated and far reaching voter protection operation American politics has ever seen. There is a website to sign up if you want to get involved, or to help answer any questions: www.gottavote.org

 

I took some pictures, but I was in the back and the lighting was tough. Sorry that these are distant and blurry, but you get the idea. 

ImageImageImageImageImage

 

 

I can’t help myself.

I can’t help but be a little excited when I see the B-Cycle bike sharing stations all around Uptown in Charlotte. Obviously we have Hubway in the Boston area, including stations that launched in Brookline this summer. I’m a big fan.

It seems that B-Cycle operates similarly to Hubway. A 24 hour pass is $8 and an annual membership is $65. Like Hubway, the first half hour of your ride is included in that cost, and there are incremental charges if you need additional time.

B-Cycle looks like it is being used a bit during the Convention. I wonder what it would have been like if Hubway was around for the DNC on Boston in 2004?

20120906-124652.jpg

DNC Night 2.

Am I the only one with Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow stuck in my head after last night? AP isn’t helping with her blog title from this morning. It feels appropriate that everyone was using #ilovethe90s on Twitter last night, because we were all feeling quite nostalgic in the hall listening to President Clinton last night.

A few observations:
– I know it is a cliche, but the only appropriate comparison to use for the environment at the DNC when Bill Clinton took the stage is to a rock concert. I shot a little video on my phone that I’m going to try to attach here so you can get a sense of what it was like in the middle of the hysteria (the video may come later – having some trouble on my phone).

– I’m guessing the cameras had cut out by the time LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took the mic after Presidents Clinton and Obama left the stage. If that was the case, you missed out on the crowd getting rowdy (in a good way) as the Mayor kept us all chanting “Fired up! Ready to go!” He was quite the enthusiastic cheerleader. Someone should have given him some red white and blue pompoms.

– As Ayanna already mentioned, we got stuck outside for a while when it looked like the Fire Marshall might shut down the building. Obviously it all worked out just fine, but we were nervous for a while there given Ayanna’s big role later in the evening entering MA’s votes into the record. When we ended up getting in – after about a 45 minute wait – Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson cleared the way for us. Tito used his skills as a former football player and made sure the three of us got through the crowd and were part of the group that got past the front doors. He literally took our hands and pulled us along with him. Thanks, Tito!

– Our delegation is pretty mellow when it comes to kooky hats an outfits, but longtime Democratic activist Curtis LeMay makes up for how boring the rest of us are with his eye catching vest!

– Adding to what I mentioned about Tuesday night, we really are in a great spot for people watching. Sightings included MC Hammer and Soledad O’Brien, plus Senator Kerry doing a bunch of interviews from the floor.

– The MA crew went Elizabeth Warren crazy! I think it was tough to tell on tv how loudly we were all screaming when she opened her remarks with a shout out to Massachusetts. My ears are still ringing! Lots of our delegates were wearing EW shirts that were part of our swag bags at check in, and she definitely did us proud.

– The bumping-into continued last night. I saw Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards after her speech. She was a regular visitor at PPLM during my tenure there, so it was a treat to see her again. I also ran into Tallahassee City Commissioner and YEO colleague Andrew Gillum as we were leaving the hall.

– Finally, but most importantly, Ayanna and Felix were plain old awesome last night. They read the votes for Massachusetts and we were all beaming with pride. I know only a few faces made it in tv, crowded around them at the mic, but there was a huge contingent from our delegation that stuck around after the Clinton speech to cheer for them during their big moment.

For those desperately waiting for a Party Animals update from last night, our apologies. Ayanna and I showed our true colors last night and didn’t go to any parties. We stopped back in our hotel room with the intention of freshening up and hitting the town, but we lost our momentum and crashed hard. We will try to do better tonight!

20120906-100147.jpg

20120906-100156.jpg

20120906-100203.jpg

20120906-100212.jpg

20120906-100219.jpg

20120906-100228.jpg

20120906-100236.jpg

20120906-100245.jpg

20120906-100258.jpg

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

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.

This is why I didn’t bring high heels.

If you know me, you noticed something very strange about the picture of my shoes earlier in this blog: they were flats or very low heels. Normally I’m a pretty serious heel kind of gal, but this is my 4th DNC and I know better than to think that I can handle all of this time on my feet in the ridiculous shoes I usually wear. There are a zillion events, panels, receptions, forums, etc. to go to during the convention – all day every day. It is a blast and a fabulous opportunity, but it makes for long and jam-packed days. These are the moments when killer heels are not a girl’s best friend.

Today was one of those jam-packed days. 

I started out with the whole MA delegation at the daily breakfast, and then made my way to the Oasis lounge (see an earlier post), a DNC messaging session on building in your Jewish community, a reception for the Fair Share Alliance, and then a panel by the JFK Library’s New Frontier Network on Changing Political Demographics. I was hugely disappointed to not make an EMILY’s List panel that I was really looking forward to, but the day just got away from me. 

The session on messaging for your Jewish community included DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and was especially timely given today’s conversations around the party’s platform and Jerusalem. Thankfully, not long after our session ended I heard from Treasurer Grossman that the President took charge and restored the appropriate language to the platform so that the issue was resolved. There were a number of MA faces in the room, including Boston City Councilor Mike Ross and Joe Hanley.

The JFK Library event was fascinating. David Gregory was the moderator, and the panel included Governor Patrick and the NYT’s Matt Bai, plus Maria Cardona and Chris Hughes. Gregory asked the Governor – again – if he was going to run for President in 2016. The Governor – again – made it clear that he was looking forward to serving out his term and returning to the private sector, but it was obvious that nobody was going to stop asking him these questions any time soon! The reception after the panel was really cool. All of the food was New England themed, down to the mini Boston Creme Pies. There was even a signature drink called the Honey Fitz. Caroline Kennedy was working the room, and talked to just about everyone there. 

One key tool for powering through all of this: sugar. I stopped for a Krispy Kreme earlier today. Totally addictive.

We are walking over to the convention shortly. Yet another reason I’m happy to be in more sensible shoes. 

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Vote like your life depends on it.

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.

Image