As you may have guessed from my teaser post yesterday, I photographed Barack Obama, at a town hall meeting held in Troy, MI. It was very last minute & I spent the entire weekend waiting for the moment when I would have our next president as a photographic subject.
Like many, I have seen Barack speak on TV, defending himself, talking about what he envisions for America & going on the offensive against his GOP rivals. Whenever I watch, I get excited, inspired & yet nervous at the same time.
Well, after being there in person with about 2000+ (I think this number is not official) other supporters I got more than I bargained for. There was so much energy in the crowd that it could have lit up 2 city blocks, and this was before Barack appeared.
One of the major highlights before Barack took the stage was that he got two super delegate endorsements from Brenda Lawrence (Southfield, MI’s first Black and first female mayor) & Lu Battaglieri (Executive Director of the Michigan Education Association).
After all of the local notables said their piece, Barack was introduced by a local woman who seemed almost too excited to talk. She told the story of how her job left MI, & how her & her husband whose also unemployed cannot afford gas to live their daily lives. Her story was touching & all too familiar these days. Just before she exploded with excitement, she turned the mic over to Barack & the crowd went wild. At the same time, I was fighting with another local photographer after she PUSHED me to take a photo. I was so ready to jump off but, well, you know.
As Barack spoke the crowd burst into encouraging chants of we love you, Obama 08, etc. I think I even shouted once. Another photographer next to me called out & said, you are too happy & I take it that this is your first political assignment. I told him that he was more than 100% right & we both laughed.
Anyway, Barack, spoke on many of the points that he has covered over the past few months: gas, energy, education, jobs etc. He also dissed JM big time, which was awesome & he also showed Billary some love.
After his familiar speech, he turned to the audience for questions, which were unscreened & in a boy/girl fashion. The questions ranged from wanting answers on gas prices, his plan on mental health coverage, corporate greed/profits & a few others to which he broke down without skirting the issues. The best questioned asked from the audience IMO was from a gentleman who admitted to spending 13 years in prison because he stole a pair of Nikes & a set of bed sheets (a possible crack move!!!). The gentleman stated that since his release, he started a company that employs 1300 people & noted that he does hire ex-offenders. His question to Barack was what does he plan to do about decreasing prison/jail recidivism rates.
This question really resonated with me because of the paper that I wrote last semester on mandatory drug sentencing & the release of thousands of former crack dealers. His answer was on point & covered prevention programs to curb conditions that turn people to crime, offer programs that would help introduce ex-offenders back into society so that they could be successful & productive. Then he also flipped the script & stated that parents need to be more accountable for their children, “parents need to parent”, “fathers need to be step up to the plate”. Those last to statements made the crowd swell with praise. I heard several amens & hallelujahs from the older Black women that were standing near me.
After the Q&A session, Barack thanked the crowd for coming out & for the support. He then toured the crowed & was surrounded by the supported who wanted to hug him, shake his hand & get photos with their cell phones. It all seemed surreal to see the love that he was getting!
Quick flashback::::: When I showed up at the school, I meet many journalists from all over & they were open & warm. Many asked who I was with & when I told them that I was a blogger, I got some great reactions. They were like wow, who do you blog for & what do you write about. A few even asked what a blog was.
I also mentioned that I was a member of the AfroSpear & excitedly told them that a few the AfroSpear bloggers were recently credentialed to blog from the National Democratic Convention this August.
Two of the most notable people that I spoke with were Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press (I swear I met her last year at a party) & Peggy Agar, the local reported who was the center of “Sweetie Gate”.
I actually talked with Peggy about the incident & she told me that it was not a big deal to her & she blew it off. Her main gripe was that Barack did not get back with her as he said he would. She went on to say that she was shocked to see how bloggers were dogging her out as if she created the drama & the way it was being handled in the media in general.
I asked if any of the cable news networks requested interviews after the jump off & she laughed & said many of them did. Her network requested that she not appear on any programs because they knew that it would spin out of control & she would just be a pawn in the game. Peggy also stated that she was just focused on doing her job, getting a paycheck so that she could feed her family & make sure that they had health coverage. Her husband has been laid off for an extended period of time & she has much bigger fish to fry. You go Peggy, & apologize for dogging you out boo!
Flashforward::::: The event was awesome, my journalistic experience was definitely interesting & I want more!!! Lastly, I encourage you to go see the political candidate that you are backing in person. Watching on TV is cool, but being there in the crowd is so much more. Kinda like watching a good movie, then you read the book & are just blown away by all of the detail that you missed.
To see images of the town hall meeting, check out my photojournal here.
– My sister found out that she is having a boy & his name will be Asar. She asked that I give him a middle name, so I am choosing something of greatness to complement his powerful first name.
– Barack Obama is now the official Democratic nominee. He gave a scorching hot speech that anyone can be proud of. I teared up a bit & only wished that I was in that stadium tonight.
– Hillary Clinton showed her ass during her sappy assed speech that should have been a concession speech. Homegirl did not announce any future plans & did not concede. I think she maybe stuck in a state of denial so tight that only R. Kelly & Kwame Kilpatrick can understand. Hillary, give it up boo, the popular vote does not get you nominated, delegates do. Ask Al Gore if you don’t believe me.
– John McCain is now older than he was earlier today making him still one old as mutha who needs to retire to FL vs. trying to run the country. Why does he always look freshly embalmed????
– On CNN tonight Anderson Cooper tried to get all up into Donna Brasile’s business & she shut him down by saying that he is not her boo. Anderson retorted, “I wanna be your boo”. That exchange cracked me the fuck up.