Long-time U.S. House Speaker and Congressman from Massachusetts Thomas “Tip” O’Neil is known for the quote “All politics is local!” For me, on this day, never was that more evident-the man who is poised to become the first African-American to be nominated as the candidate for President by a major political party came to my little locality- Martinsville, Virginia. Nestled in the foothills of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, this rural community is located in southern Piedmont region of
And to this community on the “Southside” of
For a person who has, for the first time in her life been ahead of the curve (I MADE MY FIRST CONTRIBUTION TO THE CAMPAIGN IN JANUARY 2007, THANK YOU VERY MUCH), this was not an Earth shattering speech Everything he said he’s said in one form or another since the night he was introduced to the nation at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. What was special about today was not what was said but WHERE it was said. Gathered in the lab of the Motor Sports Program at the local community college, new to the community and one of the keys to linking our history with our future, we were reminded of the successes that we have had in recent years. From the natural history museum affiliated with the Smithsonian to the public-private venture to create a four year college in a community where 15% of the population has less than 11th grade education, there are signs that this place is slowly waking from its decades’ long coma. And Senator Obama’s visit is continuing to help this place wake up. From my understanding, the only other representative of a presidential campaign to visit this place was Teresa Heinz-Kerry in 2004, so getting Senator Obama here was a BIG DEAL.
For a Diva who determines road trip rest stops according to the ease of accessing a Starbucks, moving to the heart of NASCAR Nation was a stretch, to put it mildly. I was asked by a national reporter if Senator Obama could win in this area-where the closet Starbucks is 30 miles and he could easily be viewed as “exotic.” Certainly-if he reminds them that his story is their story: single parent home, working class background, solid Christian marriage with 2 children and a dog (soon!). His story is our story-the son of the immigrant father who dreamed of the possibilities America had to offer is poised to become President and the great-granddaughter of a woman who was 12 when the soldiers came through the fields and said she was free who is poised to complete her Ph.D. Has our collective journey been without challenges? Of course not. But we are not, as Sen. Graham described, a nation of whiners. Rather, we are ingenious, loyal, dedicated hard working dreamers filled with faith, hope, and love-and these will transform our local communities, our nation, and our world.