This past Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the Democratic National Convention on the night Senator Obama accepted the nomination as the candidate for President.
It was an amazing event. The Invesco stadium was filled with over 84,000 people all waiting for that moment when history was made. As I found my way to my seat I was handed a small American flag. I almost refused the offer - it has been a long time since I felt the need or desire to wave the flag. It seemed as if in recent years (and certainly since 9/11) the flag has been co-opted by those who would use America's power to limit freedoms at home and enforce America's agenda abroad. But, I took the flag, after all, feeling only a little foolish and joined my friends.
It was amazing to hear the speeches by various politicos, but even more profound to hear the "everyday people" speak of how the last eight years of the Bush regime has negatively impacted their lives...jobs and health insurance lost, homes in jeopardy, education quality spiraling down.
Of course, the most amazing moment was when Obama spoke. His speech was bold, inclusive, daring and filled with passion for our country and what it can become.
I came away feeling that there is truly hope for our country after all. That perhaps this can be a new day for America. I felt the winds of change sweeping through that stadium.
What was also amazing was just being a part of history - a black man accepting the nomination for the Democratic candidate for President. They had a great retrospective on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. since it was the 45th anniversary of his "I have a Dream" speech. There were shirts and buttons with pictures of MLK and Obama saying "The Dreamer" next to King and "The Dream" next to Obama. And I thought that Dr. King would probably have been so proud of this moment, to see the fruits of his labors in such a monumental way.
And I thought of all the movements toward justice in the last century and into this one: the Southern Freedom movement, the feminist movement, the gay rights movement; how it does seem as if perhaps all those efforts--which felt so futile at the time-- are bearing fruit.
I mean, to think that the two main contenders for the Democratic ticket were a woman and a black man. The DNC would have been historic either way. To think I have lived to see the day when same-sex marriages and benefits for same-sex partners are becoming a reality in more and more cities and states.
I wanted to pour a libation to my activist ancestors, to honor them and their courage and commitment. I wanted to bring them all back for this moment, to reassure them their efforts weren't in vain.
Of course, there is still much work to do. Women's right to choice is continually under attack, poverty and lack of health insurance still hound much of America, we're engaged in a war in which thousands of lives have been lost. But perhaps the signs of change can give those of us who are activists renewed hope and vigor to continue the struggle for justice and peace.
As Dr. King said, at the National Cathedral on March 31, 1968, "We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."At the DNC, I saw that to be true.
I waved my flag proudly during the event. It felt right and good, as if the flag could represent me once more, as if it could stand for something I could believe in once again.
As I left the stadium, I noticed that many people had left their flags in their seats. I picked up as many as I could. I decided I would give them to people and say, "This is a flag that was given at the 2008 DNC. It's a piece of history, wave it with pride."