I was on a plane so I missed Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), but I heard it was brilliant. I caught part of Al Sharpton’s last night, and all of John Edwards.
Edwards is probably going to get the most press coverage, so I want to mention part of Sharpton’s. Favorite section of the evening:
You [George Bush] said the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule.
We didn’t get the mule. So we decided we’d ride this donkey as far as it would take us.
Also had this section:
As you know, I live in New York. I was there September 11th when that despicable act of terrorism happened.
A few days after, I left home, my family had taken in a young man who lost his family. And as they gave comfort to him, I had to do a radio show that morning. When I got there, my friend James Entome (ph) said, “Reverend, we’re going to stop at a certain hour and play a song, synchronized with 990 other stations.”
I said, “That’s fine.”
He said, “We’re dedicating it to the victims of 9/11.”
I said, “What song are you playing?”
He said “America the Beautiful.” The particular station I was at, the played that rendition song by Ray Charles.
As you know, we lost Ray a few weeks ago, but I sat there that morning and listened to Ray sing through those speakers, “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains’ majesty across the fruited plain.”
And it occurred to me as I heard Ray singing, that Ray wasn’t singing about what he knew, because Ray had been blind since he was a child. He hadn’t seen many purple mountains. He hadn’t seen many fruited plains. He was singing about what he believed to be.
Mr. President, we love America, not because all of us have seen the beauty all the time.
But we believed if we kept on working, if we kept on marching, if we kept on voting, if we kept on believing, we would make America beautiful for everybody.
Starting in November, let’s make America beautiful again.
It’s interesting to read both Sharpton’s and Edwards’ backgrounds; both came from humble beginnings, much like Bill Clinton. No matter what you else you say about the Democratic Party, rich as the candidates may be, they were some po’ folk in the day, and I don’t think most of them have forgotten it.
Aside: Barack Obama – does he have Arab or Muslim ancestry? Just the name (Barak) had me curious. Update:As several people have now pointed out to me, Obama did say his father’s family is from Kenya, so, elf is most likely correct, it is the Swahili form of the Arabic word.