You never know who you are going to meet in this business. A case in point, on Wednesday night I was getting reaction to the fact that Sen. Barack Obama had just been nominated by acclamation to be the Democratic Party nominee for President.
As I was randomly going from person to person in the arena hallway, I approached an older black gentleman, whom I had pegged for a senior citizen. Figuring he’d seen a lot of history in his life, I asked him for his reaction to the choice of sealing the nomination by acclamation, instead of by the traditional roll call vote. “I think this is a way for this nation to come to grips with its history, and save our souls,” he said.
Now I found that comment interesting, so I asked him what he meant. “I was there in 1963 (for the ‘March on Washington’),” he said, “This sort of rounds out the circle.”
When I asked him his name, he said Nathaniel Jones of Cincinnati, Ohio. He then told me he was a retired federal judge, having been appointed by President Jimmy Carter, serving on the bench for twenty-five years.
So, I was curious. When he marched in Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and thousands of others that hot August day, did he ever imagine a multi-racial candidate would be his party’s nominee for President? “I never thought it would happen given what the polls were in 1963,” Judge Jones said.
He hopes the party can unify behind Obama, and leave the bruising primary battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton behind. “I think too much media attention is focused on the disgruntled,” said Jones, “There are winners and losers.”
Judge Jones previously served as general counsel to the NAACP, a position once held by the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
The move to nomination by acclamation came about half way through the traditional roll call. New Jersey passed the torch to Illinois, and then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley passed to New York. At that moment from the shadows came Sen., Hillary Clinton, who took her state’s microphone, and asked the crowd to nominate Sen. Obama with “one voice, right here, right now, he is our candidate and he will be our President.” The conventional hall roared with approval.
So in the end, the compromise worked. Clinton received the credit for her historic campaign by a partial roll call vote, and Obama got the show of unity he desired to try to show party unity.
“I liked it,” said Gloria Garnett, “I think it will bind us all together as a whole.” Garnett is a precinct captain and an election judge in Dallas, Texas. She was behind Obama all the way, but is reaching out to her former rivals. “I have already contacted my Clinton voters, and they are on board,” Garnett said. “We are all Democrats and that’s what counts.
Delegate Robert Camacho of Walnut Creek, California saw it much the same way. Camacho, who is Latino, gay and was recently married, originally backed Clinton. He was truly touched by her motion on the floor today, to vote by acclamation, knowing how hard it must have been.
“First and foremost, I admire Senator Clinton,” Camacho said, “She’s a human being. Just seeing her get behind the party. We know we lost. She’s showing us how to unite.”
Later, former President Bill Clinton addressed the convention to wild cheering. He had the funniest line of the night about his wife Hillary’s historic and razor thin primary campaign against Sen. Obama, saying it generated “so much heat, it increased global warming!”
On a more serious and conciliatory note, the former President said, “I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.”
I will have many more blogs from Denver. Check back often at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com. I will also be on KTVU’s “Mornings on Two” at 7:45 Thursday morning.