History was made in the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado this week, and Brooklyn shared in the political milestone.
Local elected officials and delegates from throughout the borough proudly reported in for duty as the Democratic National Convention Monday for three days filled with parties, flag waving, coalition building and hope for a better future as Senator Barack Obama was named the Democratic presidential nominee for the 2008 election.
“It’s exciting to be here on the precipice of new leadership and change,” said Canarsie State Senator John Sampson, a longtime Obama supporter who came to Denver as a delegate.
Sampson, an African-American, said that he was rejuvenated by thrilling speeches from Congressman Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama on the first night of the convention, as the Democratic torch was passed from one political dynasty to the next.
“It was very emotional for some of us,” he said. “Never in our parents lifetime would we have seen something like this – to be hearing from a Kennedy and then at the same time an Obama. The transfer of power is complete.”
Sampson said that the “change that you can believe in” theme for the convention is abundantly clear everywhere you turn, as delegates from all fifty states rub elbows and talk about their common challenges, but it health care, energy or the environment.
But most of the discussion is about ending a prolonged Republican presence in the White House, he said.
“It’s about putting aside our differences and focus on one cause and one cause only – to make sure that we do not have a repeat of the Bush presidency,” Sampson explained.
Yet some of the delegates said that the convention meant more than choosing between Senators Obama and Hillary Clinton.
“This [the convention] is larger than Barack,” said Fort Greene State Senator Eric Adams, who also came to Denver as an Obama delegate. “It’s about reviving the American brand. One time we would travel across the globe and were proud to yell out I am an American, and now we’ve begun to whisper that. Some of the policies we’ve had over the last eight years have tarnished our brand and we have to bring it back to the rightful place it had in our social and moral conscious.”
On Tuesday, Adams said that he and his fellow delegates spend the day in breakfasts and caucus meetings where fellow Democrats, much like an un-rehearsed orchestra, get together and create a motley composition.
“We all walk in with different views, but we sit down together and hammer out one voice,” Adams explained.
Approximately 30 of the 320-member New York Delegation hailed from the borough of churches. Following Super Tuesday, eighteen of the borough delegates were for Hillary Clinton while twelve stood for Barack Obama.
This week, many of the Clinton delegates had already announced that they were casting their votes for Obama, although, according to some estimates, at least five percent of Hillary supporters were still going to cast a vote for their gal.
While the convention floor is filled with a cacophony of screams and cheers, some voices rise above the others when they take to the Pepsi Center stage.
Congresswoman and Super Delegate Nydia Velazquez was one of a select group of speakers at the convention Tuesday, when women’s contributions to this country were celebrated.
Speaking for small businesses owners and women business owners, who she said makes up half of all start-up companies, Velazquez explained that the Bush administration has neglected the backbone of American commerce.
“Women business owners, and all Americans, desperately need change,” she said. “The Bush Administration still refuses to implement laws on the books that give women access to the federal marketplace costing them billions in lost opportunities. We cannot afford more of the same.”
“Leave it to the Republicans to serve a big business agenda and call it a small business plan,” she said. “They may not know the difference between Wall Street and Main Street, but Barack Obama knows that small business is big business in America.”
Cheering her on was fellow Park Slope Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who grew hoarse from all the shouting during the six-hour stints on the convention floor.
“It’s awesome,” she said, describing the vibe on the convention floor. “It’s like the Super Bowl and Olympics for Democratic politics. It’s a huge production and you’re certain to play your part.”