Barack Obama Mama goes to DNC in Denver


Posted on 06 September 2008

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By Lakshmi Hannah Kerner
Barack Obama Mama

I pinched myself. Yes, I was really here in Denver for the Democratic National Convention. My heart was filled with gratitude for the generosity of my friends who supported my journey to Denver where Barack Obama would receive the nomination of his party to be the next president of the United States of America. How could Barack Obama Mama not be there? I went to Denver as a private citizen/volunteer, having run an exciting, albeit unsuccessful, race for a delegate seat in the very popular Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Ninth Congressional District, where 108 candidates ran for five seats. I want to declare right now that it is my intention to be a delegate at the next Presidential election in 2012!

Immediately upon landing in Denver I rushed to the Trail Dust Steak House, aWestern–style barbecue restaurant where Ed “Big Eddie” Schultz, a popular progressive talk show host, gave a rousing Convention kick-off “keynote speech.” At least a couple of hundred people gathered to enjoy a barbecue dinner, great camaraderie and listen to Big Eddie. What a way to start the Convention! Big Eddie was filled with passion for Barack Obama and we all responded to him with equal enthusiasm as he promised to “take it to the Republicans” whenever he appeared on The Larry King Show (where he is a frequent guest) and other radio and TV programs. I listen daily to Big Eddie on the radio and it was such a thrill to be there in person with him, his wife, and his staff. Let the fun begin!

About two months before the Convention, I received an email message, which read “I remember walking you home from junior high school to Chestnut and Depot Streets and I am so glad to see we’re still walking the same path [supporting Barack Obama].” Tom and I graduated from high school in a small town in Ohio in 1956 and he had found my name on my.barackobama.com and read about my venture with Barack Obama Mama. We discovered that we were both going to be at the Convention and arranged to hang out together when possible. We hadn’t seen each other in 52 years! This added a whole other dimension of excitement to my journey to Denver. It was wonderful to see an old friend and share our mutual admiration for and enthusiastic support of Barack Obama.

I wore my Barack Obama Mama logo tee-shirts and buttons around Denver and people responded very enthusiastically, asking where they could get one. I handed out business cards, referring folks to my website, where I have a Barack Obama Mama store and sell various items. The best part of it all is that I send all proceeds to Barack Obama’s campaign.

My volunteer assignment was at the American Presidential Experience, which took place in a 40,000 square foot tent adjacent to Invesco Field stadium. This is where I met my “new best friend” Carnella from San Francisco whom I hung out with and had so much fun throughout the Convention. Thousands of people visited this interesting and educational exhibit, filled with a replica of Air Force One which folks could board and walk through; a replica of the Oval Office where a person could have their photograph taken as they sat behind the presidential desk; replicas of clothing worn by Mary Todd Lincoln, Jacqueline Kennedy and other First Ladies; informational plaques on all of our Presidents; flags from different periods in America’s history; and many other interesting and educational items. Children especially loved building log cabins with the Abe Lincoln logs.

I fell in love with the City of Denver and its people. The city is so clean and beautiful. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. I especially loved the hybrid electric shuttle and light trains, offered free of charge. What a great concept, offering free, environmentally friendly transportation … all of America should follow your lead, Denver! There were vendors everywhere hawking their Barack Obama and DNC wares. Thousands of buttons, tee shirts, bumper stickers, jewelry. The city was alive with activity from early morning to late at night. It was the biggest party I’d ever experienced…celebrities and famous politicians everywhere. Although I was sad that I wasn’t a delegate and in the Pepsi Convention Center in the midst of the action, it was wonderful to be at the lounge of the lovely Sheraton Hotel, sitting in an overstuffed, comfortable chair, drinking a Margarita and having a bite to eat, while watching the speeches on one of several big screen TVs in the lounge, laughing and joking with new friends. There was a gang of us who met there every night to watch that day’s convention activities. We had a little excitement on Monday night when the Sheraton was put on lockdown because of police activity just outside the hotel. Our car was in between police tape and we had to wait over two hours to get to it.

From the time I arrived in Denver I was totally focused on being in the Invesco Field stadium when Barack Obama gave his speech on Thursday, the last night of the Convention. However, I did not have a credential to get into the stadium and was told by my volunteer supervisor that there was no way I could get one. Being ever the optimist, and very stubborn to boot, I went every morning to the Sheraton Hotel where the California delegation met for breakfast. I asked everyone I spoke with if they could get me a credential. Their responses were not hopeful; I was told that California had not received even enough credentials for the spouses of the delegates. But I was determined to be in the stadium and I kept asking. On Wednesday morning I was given a ticket to get into a special breakfast that featured talks by Senators John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Claire McCaskill. I was so happy to be there and hear them speak and to meet more wonderful folks. When breakfast was over, a kind and friendly delegate named Pat, who sat near me at my table, took me to a table where delegates could sign up for extra credentials and put my name down for two tickets. She took my cell phone number and said she would call if she heard anything.

Early Thursday morning while ordering coffee at the nearby Starbucks, I received a call from Pat, telling me that she had two credentials for me. I screamed with joy and ran to the Sheraton to meet Pat and get the credentials. I gave one to my friend Carnella who, like me, never gave up her intention to be in the stadium. We both cried, we were so excited that we would actually be in the stadium with Barack. Carnella and I were joined by Bette, another new friend, for breakfast and the journey to Invesco Field. The lines of people waiting to get into the stadium were very, very long, like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. People waited three hours in 100+ degree weather to get into the stadium. Although it was very hot and humid, people’s spirits were very high as they patiently moved toward the stadium. No one was complaining, everyone was chatting and laughing, filled with the optimism and hope that Barack Obama represents for our country. My seat was very high up, in nosebleed country as they say, but I was so grateful to be in the stadium when Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech. My emotions ran the whole gamut: I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I sang. I knew I was a part of history being made. This incredible Black man has a very good chance to be our next President. I was so honored to be in the stadium.

Now on to the work of getting Barack Obama elected President of the United States of America. We can do it. Yes, we can!

Lakshmi Hannah Kerner works in the Human Resources Office at Peralta Community College District in Oakland. After meeting Barack Obama in February 2007, she engaged the services of a graphic artist to create her “Barack Obama Mama” logo; a friend then created a website for her, barackobamamama.com, where she tells the story of meeting Barack and the impact he has had on her life. On her website there is a link to her Barack Obama Mama Store where she sells items such as tee-shirts, hoodies and other apparel, mugs, note cards, buttons, bumper stickers, etc. Lakshmi sends 100% of the proceeds of all sales to Barack Obama’s campaign. She is the proud and loving single mother of her bi-racial son Derek, and she has a strong heartfelt connection with Barack and his mother.