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Mrs. Obama, Brazile, Energize Black Constituencies

Nashua Telegraph, news report, Eduardo A. de Oliveira Posted: Aug 29, 2008

Editor's Note: Eduardo A. de Oliveira is a Telegraph columnist and an EthnicNewz.org reporter. He is in Denver with 9 other ethnic journalists, all sponsored by New America Media.

Denver -- Michelle Obama was the main attraction at a debate organized by the Black Caucus on Wednesday, where a panel of African American leaders celebrated the chance to make history and elect a black president of the United States for the first time.

According to Democratic National Convention Committee statistics in 2000, 42 percent of black voters rated the Clinton administration as excellent, against 8 percent who thought it was poor. In 2004, those statistics turned around as President Bush was rated excellent by 7 percent and poor by 42 percent.

"In Louisiana, my parents told me that I could be anybody I wanted. When they left the room, I giggled," author Donna Brazile said. "We knew they were lying to us. Because doors were closed to women and minorities in this country." But Brazile, who's also a political commentator for CNN, said this election season is different.

"You who wait for this time of change, it couldn't have come on a better time. Because those doors are never going to be closed again."

The audience responded throughout the meeting with "Yeahs" and "That's right!"

"The fight for blacks, Latinos, Asians is the fight for America to live off the true freedom it professes," the Rev. Al Sharpton said. "First, (opponents) said Obama is too black, now he's too white."

Michelle Obama spoke about the "world that should be," using the same soft but firm tone that she applied to her speech at the Pepsi Center on Monday. The potential first lady said issues like education, health care and the economy are not just political but personal.

"We are still living in a nation where women earn 70 cents on a dollar of a man, and for minority women it's more like 50 cents," she said

For Rev. Steven Dewberry, 55, there was still a danger that this election will be turned into a race debate.

"But Obama doesn't have to respond to it. We're black, white, Asians, we are a movement," said Dewberry, who's the president of the Minister Alliance in Colorado.

Hillary's song

When Sen. Hillary Clinton released her delegates to show full support for Barack Obama, not all of her supporters seemed enthusiastic.

When she "this country needs a new direction, a new president," many people in the crowd replied: "You!"

And when she said "I am here to release you as my delegates," booing started and lingered for half a minute.

"All along during the primary, Hillary and Barack were very close on the issues. What it boiled down to, as far as differences go, was the candidates' experience," said Rick Althaus, a Clinton delegate from Cape Girardeau, Mo.

"It dismays me to hear people 'I am going to vote for McCain.' If you are true to what Hillary believes you would never vote for McCain."

A time to protest

Chanting "no more torture, no more war," a crowd that organizers estimated at about 2,000 people protested through the streets of Denver against the occupation of Iraq yesterday. With signs that read "Support GI Resistance," and "Global Justice, Not War." protesters demanded the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The march was an act planned by the Iraq Veterans Against the War, and it is expected to sweep through St. Paul, Minn., during the Republican National Convention next week.

The group was led by about 50 Iraq veterans, straight to the Pepsi Center.

One protester, Colorado mechanic David Swardeck, said he was there to "test democracy and see if it works."

For a moment, he stop chanting anti-war slogans to plead for Obama to "Unite us all, please."

The manifestation crossed party lines, as protesters with megaphones shouted: "Will the Republicans stop the war? No! Will the Democrats do? No! Who will? We will!"

Protesters were met with a strong show of force by Denver police, which recruited at least 700 officers to control traffic and the crowd, officer John Stalius said.

But at least one person wasn't on the side of protesters or the police. David Morgan, 25, wore a shirt that read, "Protesting the protesting."

"The most important thing about this whole democratic process is that we should think about what we're doing," said Morgan, a sophomore studying finance at the University of Colorado.

"I didn't want to sit and yell at my television. We all in this planet are responsible for demonstrating for peace," said Reeney Davis, a California resident and member of advocacy group Code Pink.

Four years ago, Davis attended the republican convention in New York, as she says, "to make sure no one voted for George W. Bush."

"I am astonished that 100,000 people are not demonstrating here today."

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