"The Road We've Travelled"By UAB Graduate Students, Cale Campbell and Evelyn Douglas.
"After months of hard work and dedication volunteering with Obama For America, we were awarded the coveted Community Credentials to attend the Democratic National Convention and hear President Obama give his acceptance speech for the party nomination..."
By Cale Campbell and Evelyn Douglas - About the Authors
After months of hard work and dedication volunteering with Obama For America, we were awarded the coveted Community Credentials to attend the Democratic National Convention and hear President Obama give his acceptance speech for the party nomination. The theme of the convention was “America Coming Together” and we were actually going to be a part of this historic process. The opportunity to hear the President give his acceptance speech was a dream for both of us. As Master of Public Administration graduate students, we were excited to be engaged in the political process and looked forward to the big night in Charlotte, NC where the Democratic Convention was taking place.
Our dream of being in the audience when the President spoke in Charlotte ended with disappointment when we learned from the Alabama State Director saying that all community volunteers had lost their tickets to the Convention because of a change in venue. Due to inclement weather, the Convention was being moved Thursday night from the Bank of America Stadium to the much smaller Time Warner Center. We heard the media reports that the venue was being moved and 65,000 of us had to change our plans. We were devastated!
Because attending the Convention in person was an opportunity of a lifetime, we still wanted to be part of the process even if we had to change our original plans. We decided to attend the Obama For America Convention Watch Party in Birmingham. The event was held at the Parthenon in Downtown Birmingham with about 200 people in attendance. What started out as a horrible day quickly turned into an uplifting experience. A variety of people from our community came together for one common purpose: to support the President. While not everything on the President’s platform had been accomplished, the people in the room were filled with hope and wanted to give him an opportunity to finish what he started in 2008. We saw people from all backgrounds: teachers, union workers, the single mom going from paycheck to paycheck to feed her children, the elderly couple that depends on their Social Security check to survive each month and the college students that depend on their student loans to attend college. The President’s message resonated with us.
If you turn away now — if you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible, well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void, the lobbyists and special interests, the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are trying to make it harder for you to vote, Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry or control health care choices that women should be making for themselves. Only you can make sure that doesn't happen. Only you have the power to move us forward. ~President Obama (NPR, 2012)
The room was filled with passion and a renewed hope for a bright future.
Our differences in the policies we support and oppose were put aside for the night to show support and respect for the President of the United States. When the President began to speak the room was in complete silence as people truly focused on what he was saying. Briefly, the sound went out and the room erupted in panic. The attendees were frantic for someone to get the sound back on because they did not want to miss the major points of the speech. Soon we were listening to this powerful speech once again.
Although people in the room were attentively listening, the enthusiasm in the room hit a crescendo during certain moments. We remember most vividly each time people stood up and cheered beginning at one point to yell in unison, “USA, USA, USA!”
In conclusion, we learned about the President’s character and that he still cares about the same issues he championed in 2004 and 2008. Those gathered felt he believes we are all important to society and that each of us can make a difference as citizens. Our experience at the watch party was democracy at its best. Even though everything did not go as planned, we still were able to participate in the democratic process and celebrate “America Coming Together” with the people who make it happen. Although our journey may take us down different paths, we learned as citizens we must not give up on our beliefs, on our principles. As President Obama so eloquently stated,
America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place. Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories. And we learn from our mistakes. But we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon knowing that providence is with us and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth. ~President Obama (NPR, 2012).
(Sept 6, 2012). Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2012/09/06/160713941/transcript-president-obamas-convention-speech
About the Authors
I am interested in social policy issues specifically poverty and human rights. My graduate research is on food deserts in the Birmingham Metro Area.
After graduation this December, I hope to obtain a position with the government working on public policy issues in New York City or Washington, D.C.
In the future, I plan on pursuing a PhD in Public Policy.
I currently serve as the Vice-President of Alumni Relations with the MPA Student Association and a member of the United Way of Central Alabama’s Young Leaders Society.
I am very interested in policy issues that deal with women and children and equal rights for all.
After graduation in May of 2013 my dream job would be working with an agency that works on policy issues for women and children.