Friday, August 29, 2008


I have had some time to reflect upon the convention now that I am at home in a quiet place where I can think more clearly about the week's activities.  I have no great revelations to share with you except to say that I am very glad that I did the hard work of campaigning to become a national delegate.  It is very much worth the effort to start off working on a political campaign of a candidate that you truly believe in (by making a few phone calls and knocking on a few doors, for example) and then to find yourself being asked to represent the precinct in various capacities (as an Obama precinct captain, for example), then to considering a run for the position of national delegate by working even harder on that campaign and by devoting even more energy to the organizing efforts of your political party in the area where you live (by organizing mock caucuses/trainings and attending house district meetings to meet people and share ideas, for example).  It is a complicated and strategic effort, at least it was for me, but I appreciate all of the people that I met along the way, especially a man by the name of John McNeely who first saw my desire to "go all the way" and guided me as to how best to approach the process.  John currently serves as our precinct's (#445) democratic party committee person and he has been to the national convention several times as a delegate so I would like to publicly thank him for his guidance and to thank all of the people of the 7th Congressional District who elected me to serve as their delegate to the national convention.
I think it must be hard to serve as a public official in any capacity, not only because it requires non-stop public interaction, but also because it requires dedication to issues that are very difficult to approach.  Certainly, I face difficult decisions every day in terms of what to teach my students and how best to deliver my lectures, how to spend my paycheck, and how to treat people who may or may not respect me the way that I think that they should (like people who cut you off in traffic!), but these are actually very simple decisions and they really don't take as much energy as deciding on how to create jobs, fix social security, or whether to go to war, for example.  I'm not sure that I have the mental stamina to make those kinds of decisions every day so I really admire politicians who want to make the world a better place for us like Barack Obama.  I am really quite simple....I need a good meal, a good book, a safe and clean place to work, a few extra pairs of shoes, and a reliable circle of friends and family to come home to at the end of the day.  That's it.  Very simple.  I'm not sure that this list would be enough for someone like Barack Obama.  He needs more than that to make him happy.  Clearly, he needs to feel as though his life has been of service to others and though I, too, want to feel like I've made a difference in people's lives, I feel that my job as a professor of criminology serves that purpose and fulfills me in a way that I never thought possible, certainly not when I was completing my doctorate at CU!  I'm so glad that the rewards for that hard work pay off for me when I step into my classrooms at Metro State. 
Still, there are lessons to be learned about politics from the convention proceedings of this past week: 1) American people crave leadership that values their experience, 2) People are quickly judged but very rarely validated when they step forward into positions of leadership, 3) the media serves as a very powerful force in deciding elections because it shapes the images of politicians and campaigns, 4) Most people could probably care less about who serves as President of the United States as long as gas prices go down and wages and health care coverage goes up, 5) Politics is all about appearances and appearances are all about perception.  Thank you for the opportunity to share this experience with you. 

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Thursday, August 28, 2008


I am changed by what I have seen in the past few days. I never thought that I could feel so optimistic about the direction that this country is going in, but I am. I feel hopeful. I am inspired. I am elevated by Barack Obama. His speech was nothing less than phenomeal. As I looked up into his face from the 4th row of the Colorado delegation....he seemed too good to be really.....too good to be true. How can a man so intelligent, so unselfish, so giving, and so qualified for any other job that he could possibly want, really want the thankless job of helping Americans to live a better life? All around me, I saw people who probably felt the same way that I do about America; that it has the POTENTIAL to be great again, but it's performance as of late has bordered on mediocre. I had to sit and hold my head in my hands as he spoke about teachers and fire fighters and single moms and senior citizens actually DESERVING a better life than what they/we are getting. I couldn't believe that people of all, red, yellow, brown, white were literally leaping to their feet to salute him by waving American flags in his face. Do you realize that people that looked like him (and me) were not even considered to be human beings worthy of literacy, home ownership, or free speech? I still can't believe that it has happened in America and yet, I agree with Barack that ONLY in America, could his story come true.

Michelle Obama is dazzling! She is all that Barack will ever need in his corner to make sure that he wears the office of President of the United States well. She is the Alpha to his Omega. She is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. And you have to respect the fact that she knows how to stand beside him without overshadowing him or forcing her way to the front of the family. I think she provides the peace of mind that a man like him needs to run the country, not only because he can talk to her about his problems but also because he knows that if for some reason he is no longer with us, she will be able to pick up the torch that he has left burning so brightly and go on. I'm sure they've discussed what could happen during this election campaign and I'm sure they've come to some kind of understanding. I often think about what it would be like to see watch the man that I love (in the position that he's in) take the stage in front of so many people in so many public spaces, especially considering the level of hatred that still exists in the world today. And the only rational conclusion that I can come to is that she has decided that if this fight for the Presidency costs him his life, she has promised him (and herself) that hers will be the last face that he sees and his daughters' kisses will be the last touch that he feels before Jesus calls him home. But before he climbs those stairs to heaven, SHE will be the one to whisper in his ear.....well done, my good and faithful servant, well done.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

By Acclamation!

There are no words.....for what has happened in America tonight. Please allow these photographs to speak for me as I dry my tears and say my prayers for this new America that has been born tonight.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's the People you meet!

I looked around the floor of the convention today and realized that I had something in common with all of the people sitting around me: We are Democrats! And that means that we believe in a strong economy that is based on work and fair and equal wages; we believe in educating everyone, not just the people that can afford it; we believe that health care is a fundamental right, not a privilege; and we believe that the role of government is to protect and serve even the weakest and poorest of citizens, among other important values. As Democrats, we automatically have something in common and that's a good feeling, especially when we live in a complicated society that requires less and less personal interaction with other people. When was the last time that you actually went inside of your bank? When was the last time that you actually paid a bill in person? These are the tasks in life that used to require people to meet and get to know eachother. But, that world no longer exists - not to the extent that it used to anyway. So it feels good to know that some people still value the same things that I do.

Hillary's speech was outstanding! I found myself reflecting upon her campaign and wondering whether she really was misunderstood the way she claimed to be because everything coming out of her mouth wreaked of a unifying message that is closely related to Barack's. I laughed out loud when she said "no way, no how, no McCain". I think that remark was meant for the Democrats who have said that they would vote for McCain if Hillary didn't win the nomination. I'm glad that she (and Chelsea) seemed genuinely happy to talk about the strengths of Barack's candidacy. I think it must be difficult to fight so hard for a nomination and not get it. I think it takes real courage to lick your wounds and then join the other side. I'm not sure that I could lose the nomination gracefully as she has done, but I am grateful for her courage. I am proud of Hillary's ability to move forward for the sake of the party. And I hope that her supporters will honor her by doing the same.

Importantly, I also looked around the room this evening and realized that I was sitting amongst assigned seat was sandwiched between State Representative Rosemary Marshall and State Representative Terrance Carroll who are wonderful people that I have met before, but also good stewards of resources and good examples of leadership. I have often wondered how both of them can maintain a positive attitude even when they are dealing with uneven odds, but both of them always seem to do so. They are pleasant people to be around and they show everyone the respect that, I think, every citizen deserves. Other people that I sat near or saw included Governor Bill Ritter, Ann Curry from the Today Show, Andrea Mitchell, and Gloria Allred. I saw Spike Lee yesterday and I heard that Denzel Washington attended the African-American Council meeting that I attended yesterday. The person that I would most like to meet right now is Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones. The Congressional Black Caucus did a wonderful tribute to her during the convention this evening. R.I.P.

The Morning After

I woke up early this morning to get in line for my delegate credential and it was wonderful to see that the enthusiasm among delegates has not waned. We are all a bit tired from the festivities last night, but we are invigorated by the thought of placing Barack and Michelle in the White House. Sentiments were similar about her absolute qualifications for the job of first lady and most of us read about the previous evening's events in the morning papers. While breakfast was being served, we sipped our coffee and read the Denver Post, USA Today or the Washington Post's stories about Michelle Obama's speech. The coverage was positive! There is still much work to be done on the campaign, but the coverage was positive in terms of her accomplishment -- she brought the reality of the Obama experience into greater focus. She did a phenomenal job of raising the momentum of the Obama campaign even as John McCain continues to attack Obama on the outside. By the way, the convention is a good way to forget all about those negative attacks on Obama because everyone (almost everyone) here is on the Obama train! As Americans, we may sometimes feel as though politicians are out-of-touch with what is going on in our lives, but it is apparent to me that the Colorado delegates at this convention feel a close connection to the Obamas because their story resembles ours. What a class act the Obamas are....even their daughters look like "first girls" or "first children", whatever it is you call the offspring of the President and his wife (smile).

Media coverage of last night's events also included a few distractions from the positive ambience of the DNC such as an uprising at the city and county building, transportation snafus, and a few odd occurrences. Overall, the convention is being well-handled, in my opinion, but that is also because I was prepared to wait in lines and to walk wherever I was going. Today, I wised up and went back to wearing my socks and sneakers with my business casual outfits because I did so much walking yesterday. Also, I plan to carry some snacks in my bag to tonight's convention because I starved waiting for Michelle Obama to appear before the crowd. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I didn't really "starve" because I've got plenty of "nutrition" on me, but the point is that the activities on the floor of the convention are so exciting with the lights and the cameras and the reporters asking me for comments that I didn't want to fight the crowd to go get some nachos at the concession stand on the second floor eventhough I was hungry. Do you think I'll get away with hiding the nachos in my bag? I can see it now...."Who's dripping cheese all over the convention floor?" "Are those jalapenos in your purse?" "Allison, why do you smell like beef and sour cream?" Ha, ha, ha!

Speaking of the media, I have never felt so stalked in my whole life....I'm loving the attention, but we were literally posted up in defensive position at the convention by hundreds of photographers who were taking our pictures and doing live broadcasts from the floor. I gave about 10 reporters my name and provided comments to 4 radio stations and 5 or 6 people with microphones. Even the BBC had reporters and photographers sitting in the aisles at our feet. I think we were the most photographed delegation at the convention and rightly so! We are the host convention and we deserve the spotlight, not only for our devotion to the Obama campaign but for the work that we have done to become the representatives of our congressional district and/or state. Right now, the spotlight is on Colorado to deliver a Democratic turnout to the polls in November, too. We are considered to be a swing state in this election and we are expected to swing BLUE. Some of the Colorado delegation members, including me, wore cowboy hats last night as a sign of western hospitality. I love my cowboy hat, by the way, and I loved wearing it last night. Most people don't know that many of the cowboys who settled the west were African-American/Black. I've been told that Jesse James was Black too! My family has a long Western tradition, even my Dad was born in Junction City, KS and his Dad, although born in Arkansas, was a Buffalo Soldier in the 9th Calvary stationed in Fort Carson, CO and that is what brought him to the West when my father was still a baby. My grandmother told me the story of how my grandfather looked out the kitchen window of the house they bought on Las Animas street in Colorado Springs one day and told her that he wanted to look at those mountains for the rest of his life. He did.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Floor

In life, you are going to have good days and bad days. Today was an AWESOME day for me! It started off well with a delegation breakfast here in the hotel. The food was delicious, of course, which matters so much to a person like me (smile). Besides, perfectly cooked sausages and bacon and delectable pastries we were greeted by Ken and John Salazar, Pat Waak, Elbra Wedgeworth and a whole lot of other important Colorado representatives. I marveled at how smoothly everything went during the morning proceeding, especially the distribution of our delegate credentials. They are really quite simply made, but there are all kinds of codes embedded in them with information about whether a person is allowed to be on the "floor" of the convention center or just the "hall", for example. The credentials are like gold, however, so I hung on tightly to mine all day. See my picture attached.....soon.

I was interviewed by CSPAN during the day. They did 3, 4-minute interviews of me at different points during the day from a "day-in-the-life-of-a-delegate" perspective. Several of my friends and family members texted me to say that they saw me on CNN, but I think they meant CSPAN. Please let me know if you saw me on both! It was interesting to spend the day with a photographer. His questions were simple which allayed my fears of having to answer questions about intricate details of the Democratic party's platform. Somehow, I had built up in my mind that CSPAN wanted to ask me difficult questions about the Democratic party -- its intentions, its goals, and even its failures -- when the producer called me to ask if he could send a reporter to follow me all day. Isn't it interesting how we build ourselves up at such times? I really thought that he wanted me to enlighten him on some miniscule issue of the platform, but his questions ended up being about where I was going next and what I was having for breakfast! "Oh we have plenty of politicians for that" is what the reporter said to me when I told him what I thought he was going to ask me. We both laughed about that. The reporter's/photographer's name was Richard Weinstein....thanks for a wonderfully easy interview series, Richard. I'll try not to let my ego get in the way next time - ha, ha!

The lineup for the evening was outstanding....if you were watching, you saw the music of John Legend and speeches by Jesse Jackson Jr., Caroline Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Michelle Obama and many others. Former President Jimmy Carter even made a surprise personal appearance. All I can say is that the experience on the floor is like none other: You can see the nervousness and poise of each person. Michelle was nervous...very rehearsed and very poised, but also nervous and that added to her likeability. Her children were nervous too and they didn't know which way to turn on the stage to face the cameras. At some point during all of the various speeches, almost everyone in the delegation teared up....even the men. I'm sorry to have to tell on the men, but you know you cried. Embrace the tears because this is a unique point in our history. I cried several times throughout tonight's festivities because I couldn't believe that I was in a place that I remembered from my childhood. I used to watch the DNC with my family when I was little and I used to wonder how the delegates got there....why were they screaming so loudly and why were they waving those funny signs? Now I know.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

That was interesting!

Well, I've checked into the Grand Hyatt hotel where the Colorado delegation is staying and everyone is sufficiently busy, that is, I don't see anyone just standing around looking for something to do! The staff is alert and friendly. There are people with walkie-talkies and credentials around their necks at every doorway, hallway, and exit to the hotel. This morning, as I checked into the hotel, there were numerous "agents" in and around the building as well. I call them "agents" because they are all wearing dark suits, sunglasses, ear pieces and they seem to be talking to their handcuffs or wrists -- I'm assuming they have communication devices hidden in their sleeves. I cannot tell which agency they work for or whether they are private security personnel but they are very serious in their demeanor so I don't think that I will approach them to ask them who they work for -- it will remain a mystery for now (smile). There is a flurry of activity going on in the driveway to the hotel because people are arriving in large black SUVs with tinted windows and there are law enforcement officers (in full tactical gear) stationed in groups of 6 at each entranceway to the driveway.

I have just returned from the 16th street mall where I went to grab a burger at the Paramount Cafe. When I left the hotel to walk the 1.5 blocks to the mall, I was told to exit the elevator and move directly to the main entrance of the hotel by one of the "agents" stationed at the doors of the elevator. My guess is that someone important was either arriving at or exiting the hotel. To be sure, there are many famous people here...I have already seen Rep. Maxine Waters, Wellington Webb, Walter Cronkite, and several other people whose names I don't know but they were well-dressed people who were giving on-camera interviews in the lobby of the hotel. It is exciting to be in the middle of it all. Back to my story.....I was sitting just inside the patio doors of the Paramount Cafe when a crowd of about 60 protesters started making their way down the 16th street mall carrying signs that I couldn't read and shouting what seemed to be the word "Ostrich"! I confirmed this with several other diners nearby and we all agreed that we don't have a clue what that means. Anyway, many of them were dressed in black tee-shirts with black bandanas tied around their faces. It was a bit intimidating and seemed to have the potential to get out of control quickly until I saw the entourage of police officers, in full tactical gear (bullet-proof vests, helmets with visors, and guns) following behind the protesters in SUVs, on motorcycles, on bicycles, and on horseback.

The police presence was enormous! As I walked along the 16th street mall after my meal, there were entire squadrons of officers all along the mall as well. I smiled a little to myself as I thought about how deflated the egos of the protesters might be to find that the police outnumber them by about 100:1. Isn't it nice to live in a country where the democratic process itself can be both protested and protected at the very same time? God bless America.