Barack Obama rally last night

Writing for the Public Life/Elections beat this semester has given me some amazing opportunities.  I have now gotten a chance to see all the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and also got a chance to watch the Gubernatorial debate.  Out of all the events I have attended, the Obama rally last night was unlike any other.  Typically at the events I went to, press credentials were no problem, and checking in took no more than 5 minutes.  Last night, however, I had to wait around for about 30 minutes before they could deal with “all 40 of us”, as they referred to the group of about six Missourian reporters that just wanted to go into the crowd.

Once I finally got in it was well worth it, and I was still grateful I didn’t have to wait in the public line.  I am not sure what time people started to form a line to get into the event that started at 7:30 p.m. , but when I was walking out of my class that ended at 4:45 p.m., there was already a line that went down 9th Street and wrapped around the corner with no visible end.  Upon seeing the line I knew that this event was going to be something else.  I had anticipated that it was going to be crowded, and that people were going to be lining up early, but the amount of people that attended was beyond my expectations, which was, according the Missourian, about 40,000 people. 

As I walked around to interview people for the story I am working on, I got a feel for what the crowd was like.  The atmosphere was like that of die-hard fans waiting for their favorite rock band to play a concert. The people of the crowd were this excited to see the politician, and some of the people I talked to were even deeply moved by Obama, and let their emotions show when I spoke to them.

The story I am currently working on involves people who have memories of the Civil Rights movement, and how they feel about the current election, and the possibility of Obama being the next president of the United States.  Although I did have some difficulty finding 70 to 80 year old people in the crowd, I did get to talk to some interesting people along the way.  I talked to some people who’s parents and grandparents remember the Movement, and it was touching to hear their emotions when they talked about how thrilled they were to be voting for Obama, after what members of their family went through.  

Two of the most interesting people I talked to were Zeyana Hamid and Julia Hickem, who appeared to be the best of friends, but informed me that they had met that very night while waiting in line. However, they said that they would be friends for life.  Julia told me this was the happiest night of her life.  When I asked Julia if she remembered her parents talking about the movement, she reflected that she did have some memories, and recalls that her mother “always had hope”, just like her.  Although Zeyana wasn’t quite as outgoing as Julia, she did have a lot to say about Obama, despite the fact she can not vote  because she is an international student from Tanzania. She expressed her belief that Obama will help international relations, and change the country’s current approach, with which she does not agree.

Julia and Zeyana were just two of the interesting people I talked to, but hopefully everyone will be able to read about the rest in my Civil Right’s article, once it is finally finished.

The final thing I want to reflect on was Obama’s actual speech.  Regardless of your politics and who you plan to vote on, it was a great experience to hear a man who will possibly be the next president give a speech.  I had several friends attend the event because they thought that it would be a “once in a lifetime experience” to hear Obama speak, and I agree with that sentiment.  If he is elected president, it will be a historic moment, and to be able to say I saw him speak five days before the election is something I will be able to tell my grandchildren about.

Again, regardless of your politics, he is a very powerful public speaker.  Not only was it an experience to watch him speak, but watching the crowd’s reactions was an experience of it’s own.  There were many people who responded to Obama as if he was actually speaking to them personally, and a few times the crowd stopped to chant “Yes we can!”.  It was great to see so many people my age, and people of all ages, races, and backgrounds, come together and support the same cause, and share a sense of unity over something they truly care about, which, again regardless of politics, is something worth seeing.

In conclusion, the Obama rally was an experience that I will never forget, not because of any political preferences, but because of the people I met there, and the unity and emotions displayed by the crowd.

One Response

  1. heartwarming

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