3:00 – Left work, picked Lovegirl up, dropped her off at Ms. D’s and headed over to Jackson State. Doors were scheduled to open at 5.
4:00 – Got to JSU, parked at a church on the corner of Lynch St., so I wouldn’t have to navigate those damn roundabouts when it was time to go. Walked for a few minutes, was told by those “in the know” that I couldn’t take in any sort of bag. Walked back to the car, emptied my very small purse, jammed stuff in my pockets, headed back.
4:15: I’m in line, talking to folks, amazed at the sheer number of people lining the streets, waiting to get in. People from every demographic category were represented. I was inspired and uplifted by the crowd’s energy. The line is slowly inching forward, indicating that doors have opened a little earlier than expected.
4:57: I’m in! After a brief delay at the metal detectors – I forgot to take my swiss army knife off my keychain – I was swept into the auditorium. Turns out I could’ve brought my purse – I’m slightly pissed because I left my camera behind, but oh well, that’s spilt milk. I find a seat in the nosebleed section and hunker down, waiting for the Senator to take the stage.
5:15: A few people that I don’t recognize and can’t hear take the stage. The loudspeaker is playing “I’ll Take You There.” An older lady seated above me takes the music as her cue to get up and dance. At first she was just doing a side to side rock – when the crowd starts noticing her, clapping, and making cat calls, she is encouraged and starts to -borrowing a phrase from my father-in-law here – “jook.” I am amused and alarmed. The lady next to me starts talking, and we have a wonderful conversation which continues through the rally, us exchanging telephone numbers, and onto Lynch street later that evening.
6:13 (or so – I don’t wear a watch – all of these times are guesstimates!) Senator Obama takes the stage after a prayer, a word from Congressman Bennie Thompson, and former Governor Ray Mabus.
I confess - I was a little underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong – I was happy to be there, thrilled at the likelihood of him winning Mississippi, and caught up in the moment. But I also understood something my brother mentioned when we were discussing his experience in Houston. My brother stated that going to the rally was kind of like class elections in the 8th grade where the kid who brings candy and promises no more classes is the one elected.
“Health insurance for all!” “Increased wages!” “Equal educational opportunities!” Etc., etc.
I think at this point in my life, I’m an optimistic cynic – I hope he wins, I hope change occurs, but I’m just not sure how many of his speaking points can be realistically implemented in the time frames he was referencing.
All in all, I’m glad I went. He is still my choice for President. And I am excitedly nervous to cast my ballot today.
Barack the vote!