By Carla Thomas
The Masonic Auditorium atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill was abuzz with every network’s television truck, dozens of journalists, fans, campaigners, community advocates and on-lookers waiting for their glimpse of the president’s entrance and speech.
Fans, campaigners, politicians and community advocates came out in full force as the excitement mounted hours before the DNC’s re-election kick-off event. “I’m in!” appeared to be the new supportive slogan.
“I’m just proud to be a part of this time in history while we’re celebrating probably the greatest president we’ve ever had,” said Assemblyman Sandre Swanson accompanied by his district director Carol “CJ” Jones . “I think he’s putting the people first and not politics and he’s trying to help America fulfill its dream and I think that’s what makes our president special.”
“He’s doing the right thing under all circumstances,” said Lillian Litzsey, President of the BWOPA of Hayward, along with DaBora Lovitt of BWOPA and Jim Copes of Designer Optics Frames to Go. “You can tell by the decisions he makes that he is doing what is best for the people, not necessarily what is best for him.”
President and CEO of Catholic Healthcare West, Lloyd H. Dean knew the Obamas prior to the presidency and was an active participant in the health care reform package. His time back stage with the president was special. “It felt great addressing him as president, and the president jokingly thanked me for giving him his props.”
Along with husband, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Senator Loni Hancock of the 9th District was excited to hear what the president had to say. “We need words of hope and audacity and fighting back against people who are trying to destroy government and all the great public systems that were so important to life in this country and life in California.”
“The way President Obama brought people together in 2008 and the pain that we still go through in the normal existence in life — It’s wonderful of him to run for re-election. I’m delighted to be at the kick off to wake up America again, and make sure we turn this ship of state around,” said Assembly Member of the 20th district CA, Bob Witkowski.
“The president needs our support and I’m happy to be here,” smiled Congresswoman Barbara Lee in a beautiful red suit seated near Representative Nancy Pelosi.
The Bay Area’s own artist Goapele sang five of her signature songs. Dressed in a royal blue satin dress with a beautifully French braided hair do, the songstress blew the crowd away with her gift of harmony, letting the lyrics linger to a bass filled beat. “I know we’ll find a way, let’s start it today,” as she customized her song in support of the president.
Goapele recalled her experience at the inauguration and encouraged people to hold to those powerful moments and focus to carry everyone through a difficult economy.
Jerry Rice took the stage, “If we want to guarantee that President Obama is able to win a 2nd term we have got to come together and maintain that vigor all the way through 2012. It’s going to take team work.” “We are playing for something even more important than a super bowl ring,” he said flashing his ring proudly, “And I don’t usually say things like that,” he joked. “We’re playing for the future of America, for our country’s sake and our children’s sake. “The crowd cheered him on as he jogged around in champion fashion and exited the stage.
“I want a vision of America that is big and bold and ambitious as it has ever been. That’s what I’m fighting for and that’s what this campaign has to be about — a vision of a big, generous, compassionate America; a vision where we’re living within our means but we’re still investing in our future; a vision where we all share sacrifice, nobody bears all the burden, and we all share an opportunity; a vision where we live up to the idea that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter whether your ancestors landed here on Ellis Island or came here on slave ships or came across the Rio Grande, we are all connected. We will rise and fall together”.
The president cited the women’s, unions and civil rights movements as examples of holding onto a dream and enduring tough times until the day is brighter.
“At every juncture in our history, when our future was on the line, when we were at a crossroads like we are right now, we pulled through, and we pulled through together. We were able to make the changes that were needed. And it was hard. It was full of debate and sometimes rancor, and sometimes worse. That’s how this country became more equal.”
“I want you to think about all the unfinished business we’ve got ahead of us. I want you to be excited about the future that lies before us. I want to remind you and everybody else of those three simple words that summed up what we believe as a people — Yes, we can.”