Political and community leaders turned out to mark the unveiling of the renovated Brown’s ShopRite of Cheltenham.
The newly renovated 75,000-square foot store was unveiled Wednesday morning, and features expanded offerings such as an International Market, and a new seafood department.
“We went to great lengths to offer options to help people live a healthier life,” said Jeff Brown, president and CEO, Brown’s SuperStores, Inc. “Between produce, seafood and fish, poultry and meat, dairy and deli, we have 1,000 fresh items in this store that celebrate the heritage of our customers.”
The $12 million renovation project was financed by a combination of $5.5 million in state money and $6.5 million in private funding. The store, located at 2385 Cheltenham Avenue, employs 325 people.
The project is a part of first lady Michelle Obama’s national effort to increase healthy food access to millions of underserved people across the nation.
In July, Obama joined the Partnership for a Healthier America in announcing commitments from Brown’s Super Stores, SUPERVALU, Walgreens, Walmart, California FreshWorks Fund, Calhoun’s Grocer, and Klein’s Family Markets to expand and open more than 1,500 stores over the next five years to serve approximately nine million consumers.
“Jeff is showing us that we can make stores in areas that really weren’t profitable, profitable for small businesses — creating great jobs, serving healthier food for the community — and we want to do this all around the country,” said Larry Soler, president and CEO, the Partnership For a Healthier America.
The White House has recognized Brown’s Super Stores for its efforts in serving urban communities who lack affordable, healthy food.
“The first lady has really laid out a vision for this nation — and it’s a vision that calls upon all of us to step back and think about how are we impacting the health and well-being of our nation’s children — and what changes can we make to help improve their health,” said Sam Kass, White House senior policy advisor.
“Make no mistake, the future of our country is really at risk. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) predicts that one in three children born today will have diabetes in their lifetime. When you step back and understand the consequences of this — they’re devastating.”
A plaque bearing the name and likeness of state Rep. Dwight Evans was unveiled during the celebratory event. Evans was hailed for his work in developing the Fresh Food Financing Initiative. The grant and loan program which encourages supermarket development in underserved neighborhoods is regarded as a national model.
The FFFI was launched when Brown’s SuperStores opened a ShopRite store on Island Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia.
“I want to be very clear. This is not about me, this is not about the Browns and this is not about elected officials. It’s about the customers. It’s about the taxpayers. It’s about the people,” said Evans.
“The Browns and the elected officials are no more than conduits to what people deserve — and you deserve the best.”
The ShopRite is also now home to the new Einstein FastCare health clinic. Led by nurse practitioners from the Einstein Healthcare Network, the clinic provides convenient and affordable basic and preventative health care. The walk-in clinic offers treatment for sore throats, earaches, sinus infections, flu or cold symptoms and urinary tract infections. A clinic visit costs $57 and most insurances are accepted.
“We have a convenient care clinic, which we know will be of great service to the community — but we also believe this will provide screenings, health education and will serve as a point of access to people in connecting them to primary care providers,” said Mary Beth Kingston, Chief Nurse Executive, Einstein Healthcare Network.
The clinic also houses a benefit bank office. Through this office, consumers can tap into SNAP (Supplement Nutrition Access Program), Medicaid, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and other benefits.
The clinic was developed in partnership with UpLift Solutions and Bellin Health in collaboration with the Convenient Care Association. During the event, Brown noted that he was willing to work with other supermarket retailers who are interested in launching similar clinics.
Founded in 1988, Brown’s Super Stores is a family-owned and operated supermarket chain of 10 Philadelphia area ShopRite supermarkets. Brown founded Uplift Solutions in 2009, which has pioneered efforts to eliminate areas lacking access to fresh and affordable food.
Angela Davis, Pam Grier, Alice Walker, Michelle Obama. Revolutionary Black women have evoked strong reaction throughout American history. Magazines, political campaigns, music, television and movies have relied upon deep-seated archetypes and habitually cast strong, counter-cultural Black women as mammies and sexual objects. In “Iconic: Decoding Images of the Revolutionary Black Woman” (Baylor University Press, $22.95), Lakesia Johnson explores how this belittling imagery is imposed by American media, revealing an immense cultural fear of Black women’s power and potential.
“This book asks what it means to represent Black womanhood and explores how these representations are connected to the long history of representational depictions and choices that communicate the role of Black women in social movements,” explains Johnson. “On the one hand, ‘Iconic’ explores how representations of strong, revolutionary Black women within popular culture are use to reinforce dominant, lingering and mostly negative stereotypes about Black women. On the other hand, ‘Iconic’ traces the numerous ways that African-American women activists, actors, writers and musicians have negotiated, confronted and resisted stereotypical representations of Black womanhood by taking control of their public images and constructing iconic depictions of and narratives about African-American womanhood ...These revolutionary Black women have used these counter images to promote a vision of racial and gender justice that is attentive to their inter-sectional experiences and committed to movements that fight against racism, sexism and other forms of oppression.”
Johnson chronicles how strong Black women — truly revolutionary Black women — have nonetheless taken control of their own imaging despite consistent negative characterizations. Through their speech, demeanor, fashion and social relationships, women from Sojourner Truth to Michelle Obama have counteracted these depictions. With ingenuity, fortitude and focus on the greater good, these revolutionary women transformed the cultural images of themselves and, simultaneously, those of American Black women as a whole.
Seamlessly weaving together role models of past and present, from women in politics to artists and musicians, Johnson eloquently demonstrates how the revolutionary Black woman in many public forums has been — and continues to be — a central figure in challenging long-standing social injustices.
As assistant professor of gender, women’s & sexuality studies and English at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, Johnson doesn’t allow the media does not have the last word: “Part of what I’m doing is looking at the image of the angry Black woman, or the revolutionary Black women, gets used when she speaks truth to power.”
When Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, he also won a long-running debate with his wife Michelle. Contrary to her fears, politics now seemed like a worthwhile, even noble pursuit. Together they planned a White House life that would be as normal and sane as possible. The Obamas had never lived together full-time as a family until they moved into the White House — and that’s where their political and personal lives became inextricable. The first 1,000 days of the Obama White House is the topic of New York Times’ reporter Jodi Kantor’s tell-all “The Obamas” (Little, Brown and Company; $29.99). Released this week, the purported intimate look at Obama, and more pointedly his wife, Michelle, has drawn the ire of the first family. In the book, Mrs. Obama is said to have occasionally bristled at some of the demands and constraints of life in the White House.
In a strongly worded posting on The White House blog, Eric Schultz, White House Associate Communications director, stated “The book is about a relationship between two people whom the author has not spoken to in years.…The emotions, thoughts and private moments described in the book, though often seemingly ascribed to the president and first lady, reflect little more than the author’s own thoughts.”
The Kantor book portrays a White House where tensions developed between Mrs. Obama and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and former press secretary and presidential adviser Robert Gibbs. The book describes Mrs. Obama as having gone through an evolution from struggle to fulfillment in her role at the White House, while labeling her an “unrecognized force” in pursuing the president’s goals. Kantor has covered the world of Barack and Michelle Obama since the beginning of 2007. She is the author of “First Marriage,” the now famous 2009 New York Times Magazine cover story that examined the partnership between the president and first lady. When the couple refused her interview request for this book, Kantor worked around them and interviewed over 35 other White House staffers who work closely with the first family.
Mrs. Obama challenged the book’s assertions she’s forcefully imposed her will on White House aides in an interview broadcast Wednesday with CBS’ Gayle King. “I love this job. It has been a privilege from day one,” said the first lady. “I do care deeply about my husband. I am one of his biggest allies. I am one of his biggest confidants.” But she sought to put aside “this notion that I sit in meetings.” “I guess it’s just more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here,” she said. “That’s been an image people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced, that I’m some kind of angry Black woman.”
Mrs. Obama said that when questions or conflicts arise involving her and the White House staff, her East Wing staff resolves the issue with her husband’s staff in the West Wing. “If there’s communication that needs to happen, it’s between staffs," she said. “I don’t have conversations with my husband’s staff.” Asked specifically about an assertion of dissension between herself and Emanuel, now the mayor of Chicago, the first lady said she has “never had a cross word” with him. The same, she said, applies to Gibbs, whom she described as “a good friend, and remains so.”
“I’m sure we could go day to day and find things people wished they didn’t say to each other,” Obama said. “And that’s why I don’t read these books. ... It’s a game, in so many ways, that doesn’t fit. Who can write about what I feel? What third person can tell me what I feel?
“There will always be people who don’t like me,”Mrs. Obama added, and said she could live with that and that she’s “just trying to be me, and I just hope that over time, that people get to know me.”
New York Times Washington correspondent Jodi Kantor will appear at the National Constitution Center on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 6:30 p.m. as part of Election 2012, the Center’s yearlong programming series on the key issues facing Americans during this important election year. Reservations are required and can be made online at www.constitutioncenter.org or by calling (215) 409-6700.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
At the Democratic National Convention, a number of issues were brought to the spotlight, showing the vast differences between the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan platform and President Barack Obama’s administration.
On Tuesday night, the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro, electrified the audience with his speech, as did first lady Michelle Obama and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. They touched on women’s rights, the continuing political wrestling over same-sex marriage, veteran’s benefits and other national issues and problems.
Absent was any statement regarding the national epidemic of Black on Black violence — violence which consumes cities like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Camden and Chicago. Even President Barack Obama has been noticeably silent on the issue, according to some community leaders — and they’re starting to ask why.
“I’ve noticed this, and normally they’re quiet on this issue, but there’s a silence on many serious domestic issues like structural poverty. There are issues that need to be addressed and aren’t,” said author and sociologist Dr. Elijah Anderson. “When it comes to the problem of crime and violence in Black and Latino communities, could it be indifference? We can speculate that it is. Certainly these communities are hurting; there is a national recession and a depression in inner city poor communities.”
Bilal Qayyum, executive director of the Father’s Day Rally Committee also said that he noticed the silence on the part of various speakers regarding the high numbers of young Black and Latino men who are killed every day in America. Qayyum said both parties are afraid of the National Rifle Association.
“Both parties have been very silent, haven’t they? I think it’s because they’re scared of the NRA,” Qayyum said. “Now in the light of the shootings in Colorado, there’s renewed discussion on banning assault weapons. But when it comes to Black and Latino males gunning each other down, I can tell you that Mitt Romney doesn’t really care — but then both parties have been silent on the issue of violence in America in general.
“Mayor Castro didn’t say anything about it and neither did the first lady. Patrick did mention the problem of crime, but didn’t get into specifics. It’s an issue that they’re not really sure how white voters would respond to. What they could do is cloak the subject by speaking about crime and violence in general because really, when it comes down to it, it is an American problem, not a Black American problem. I’d bet that if you took a national poll and asked the average American what were their two biggest concerns, the first would be jobs and the second would be crime. I also think that if you politicize this, you’ll find yourself in a fight with the NRA. The only person who is likely to mention this problem is Mayor Michael Nutter, who has spoken about this before as a national issue.”
Mayor Michael Nutter was scheduled to speak at the convention on Wednesday, but was rescheduled for Thursday night. In the past, as president of the United States Conference of Mayors, Nutter has been outspoken concerning the high murder rate among young Black and Latino men and the issue of illegal guns that fuel the violence.
According to figures from reports researched by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 85 percent of the Black victims of homicide are male and 51 percent are between the ages of 17 and 19. Across the nation, Blacks accounted for 49 percent of all murder victims in 2005. Black males accounted for 52 percent. If those figures were reversed and white males were killing each other at such a rate, no national resource would be spared to stop it, said Chad Lassiter, president of Black Men at Penn.
“We know why there’s a silence on this issue,” Lassiter said. “There’s lots of jibber-jabber and well-rehearsed, well-written speeches that are calculated to get an emotional response — but are thin on substance. I’m not surprised there’s no real discussion on the issue of Black and Latino males murdering each other, because we’re talking about a segment of the population that’s not part of the landscape. These young men are seen as a permanent underclass, as sub-human and ostracized from society. To raise these issues means you have to talk about institutional racism, the high incarceration and drop out rates — and they’re not going to risk their lobby contracts or their political futures. When it comes to this kind of violence there isn’t a real effort on the part of the power elite to address it. Poverty is a ‘no-no’ and Black male violence is a ‘no-no.’
Philadelphia criminal defense attorney and community activist Michael Coard said the problem won’t be raised because of racism.
“Why isn’t this issue being raised? Because Romney doesn’t give a damn and Obama is afraid to give a damn,” Coard said. “But really, if you think about it, there’s no such thing as Black on Black crime. People don’t commit crime because of race, but because of opportunity and because it’s convenient — it’s neighbor on neighbor crime. Statistically speaking, white males commit more crimes because they’re a larger segment of the population, but the white media doesn’t report that — and why? Because just like America is racist, the media is also racist.”
The “Kennedy Center Honors,” consistently one of the most surprising, compelling and entertaining programs of the year, airs at 9 p.m., Dec. 26 on CBS. Caroline Kennedy returns as host for the 10th consecutive year.
The gala ceremony took place on Dec. 2, and as is the tradition, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are seated with the honorees in the Presidential Box of the Opera House at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, after hosting the traditional White House reception for the honorees.
Reportedly, the first lady was stunning in a spectacular Michael Kors creation.
Honorees at the 35th annual awards ceremony recognizing recipients for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures and television include Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, Tony Award-winning ballerina Natalia Makarova, multiple Grammy Award-winning American blues guitarist and jazz singer Buddy Guy, Emmy Award-winning late night talk show host David Letterman and multiple Grammy-winning rock band Led Zeppelin.
Performers and presenters include Alec Baldwin, Jeff Beck, Jack Black, Jason Bonham, Tracy Chapman, Gary Clark, Jr., Alina Cojocaru, Billy Connolly, Angel Corella, Robert DeNiro, Tina Fey, Foo Fighters, Morgan Freeman, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Beth Hart, Judith Jamison, Julie Kent, Kid Rock, Jimmy Kimmel, Lenny Kravitz, Laura Osnes, Veronika Part, Tiler Peck, Grace Ann Pierce, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Romano, Liev Schreiber, Jimmie Vaughn, Naomi Watts, Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson.
A short biographical film was featured during each honoree's tribute, and the legendary Judith Jamison, former Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a 1999 Kennedy Center Honoree, paid tribute to Russian-born prima ballerina Natalia Makarova, who performed with Jamison in the American Ballet Theatre. "As a colleague and a great admirer, I'm so delighted that we honor her tonight," Jamison said.
Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman paid tribute to Buddy Guy, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, stating, "I first heard the blues sitting on my grandmother's porch in Mississippi - we called it "gut bucket music." You mastered the soul of that gut bucket music and used that as your starting point. You found a new music in it that no one had ever seen before. And without the Internet, without YouTube without even FM radio, you went viral. You went viral, Buddy Guy. You made a bridge from roots to rock and roll."
Tracy Chapman, who won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1988, performed "Hound Dog" in the tribute to Guy, and a definite highlight of the evening is the tribute to Led Zeppelin, which featured a rousing rendition of "Whole Lotta Love" by multiple Grammy Lenny Kravitz. The show ends with a high energy performance of Led Zeppelin's iconic "Stairway to Heaven," featuring Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson from the rock band Heart.
Chanting “Four More Years,” hundreds of Pennsylvanians came out to support first lady Michelle Obama as she campaigned for the president’s re-election. The rally, which was called “It Takes One,” was held at the Bobby Morgan Arena on the campus of the University of the Sciences. The rally was her first stop in Pennsylvania on Thursday. She also spoke at Upper Dublin High School in Montgomery County and Moravian College in Bethlehem.
“It takes one voice to change a rule, city, state and a nation,” Obama said. “This journey is going to be long and it’s going to be hard, but that is how change always happens. We have come too far to be defeated now. We can no longer look back, but only look forward. We have a lot of choices to make this upcoming election. It will be another close race, but we will prevail.”
The Obama administration is continuing to push for a new tax rule called the “Buffett Rule,” named for billionaire Warren Buffett, who has criticized the current tax code that allows him to pay a lower rate than his secretary. The plan would essentially close tax loopholes for the rich, and require a 30 percent mandatory tax rate on millionaires.
“Teachers and firefighters should not pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires,” she said. “All of our kids deserve an excellent education, where they won’t have to later pay back outstanding loans. If you work hard, you should not have to go bankrupt. You should be able to retire and enjoy the fruits from your labor. This is the foundation we were built on. These are basic American values, which all of us take pride in.”
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aimed primarily at decreasing the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the overall costs of health care. It provides a number of incentives, including subsidies, tax credits and fees, to employers and uninsured individuals in order to increase insurance coverage. In June, the Supreme Court upheld the act.
“The fight for Obamacare was based on the people we encountered over the years,” the first lady told the enthusiastic crowd. “The grandparents who couldn’t afford their medication, the families who are going broke because their child got sick, and the woman who is dying from cancer because her insurance will no longer cover the costs. That act was for Americans who have struggled for years to pay medical bills. No one should be denied treatment because of your insurance. Everyone has the right to have quality healthcare.”
In addition to the Buffett Rule and Obamacare, the first lady also addressed other key issues including the economy and war. She ended her speech by encouraging supporters to vote in November.
“Barack Obama knows what it means to struggle,” she said. “He knows what it means to work hard because he wants something better for his kids. He knows the American dream because he lived it. We are here to support that dream. This election, I encourage all of you to vote. We will need you now more than ever.”
I’m pretty sure that when Barack Obama first talked to his wife about his crazy idea of running for president, being the pragmatic woman that she is, Michelle must have given him an earful about the treatment he’d receive as the nation’s first Black chief executive.
She probably warned him that he’d be depicted as a watermelon-eating thug from Chicago’s inner city, and that their family would become targets — both literally and figuratively.
What the first couple couldn’t have imagined in even their most cynical moments is the hardened, ingrained hatred of the man based solely on his ethnicity — a hatred that would subsist almost solely on outright lies repeated often enough, and loudly enough, to pass as truth.
The lies started shortly after he declared his candidacy — he’s a Muslim, he’s a Communist, he’s secretly an anti-American terrorist. He hates America, he hates white people, and he was born in Kenya. Those lies gained momentum, and we all heard them repeated ad nauseum on the nightly news and cable talking heads shows.
Sure, it seemed pretty ridiculous at the time. Many of us were willing to laugh off the silliest of the charges, and ignore the rest. After all, we figured, the truth would come out, the lies would be exposed, and he would assume the presidency without having one speck of mud stick to him.
We were right about that, but dead wrong in thinking the hatred would die down or the lies would slow to a trickle. If anything, the president’s sworn enemies have doubled down on the untruths since 2009, and there’s no reason to believe an entirely new pack of lies won’t manifest themselves by the time he’s inaugurated for a second term.
Here are a few highlights of the past four years, just in case you needed a reminder.
He’s giving out free cell phones to Black people!
I’m Black, and no one has offered me a free cell phone. In fact, I don’t even know anyone who got a free cell phone from the president. And I’m from the generation that remembers Black folks lined up three deep and around the corner for a block of government cheese in the 1980s. Do you think if there were free phone giveaways somewhere, you wouldn’t hear about it?
There’s a government program called Lifeline, which, since the Clinton administration and through the G.W. Bush years, provided free or low cost telephone service to Americans who already qualify for benefits under other programs such as welfare, SSI, Medicaid and the like. And according to the statistics kept by the Department of Welfare, there are more white people receiving government assistance than any other ethnic group, so if anyone’s getting free phones, it’s not us. Even though the program started years before Obama became president, they simply attached the Black man’s name to it, and viola! Obamaphones for Black people, and instant controversy.
He’s coming to take your gun!
The president has not made a single move to deny legal gun owners their sacred right to be a trigger-happy lunatic, even in the wake of unspeakable national tragedy and polling data that suggests Americans are more than ready for common sense firearms regulations. He hasn’t said he’d be interested in taking away even one gun from NRA supporters, and hasn’t insisted we finally pry that musket from Charlton Heston’s cold, dead hands.
Yet, there’s a national run on gun stores like Black Friday at Walmart. Folks are scooping up assault rifles, high capacity magazines and boxes of ammunition — genuinely expecting Obama’s FBI or ATF or whoever to take their small town by siege like Waco or Ruby Ridge. It’s a lie, of course, but one told loudly enough and often enough to make believers out of the small minded.
Then there’s the lie involving the made-up controversy surrounding the deaths at our embassy in Bengazi, the lie about the extravagant multi-million dollar trips and my personal favorite, that Obama didn’t order the death of Osama Bin Laden — that was George W. Bush.
Don’t worry, though — they’re not done. You can bet your last dollar that before the president has finished reciting his oath of office for the second time, the GOP spin machine will be spitting out lies faster than they can get bookings on Fox News.
If we’re lucky, the lies will be even more creatively ludicrous and outlandish in his second term. I certainly hope so. As a columnist, I’m actually looking forward to it.
Daryl Gale is the city editor of the Philadelphia Tribune.
“The Wendy Williams Show” is taped live in New York and features Williams’ distinctive and entertaining personality as well as a diverse mix of celebrities from film, music, sports and television. Popular segments include “Ask Wendy” during which she offers real advice to audience members looking for solutions to problems, and “Hot Topics” in which she delivers her own funny and authentic take on the juiciest headlines.
Last week, the renewal of “The Wendy Williams Show” through 2014 on the Fox-owned stations was announced. “We’re in 52 countries, so over in Dubai you could still watch,” laughed Williams during her Friday visit. She greeted all she encountered with her official salutation: “How You Doin’?
“It’s a real good feeling. That could change at any given second. TV is a very fickle business — it’s probably more fickle in it’s severity than radio. In TV when it’s good, it’s good. But when it’s bad — oww! — there is no grey area. It’s nice to be here.”
Before hosting this show, Williams enjoyed a successful 23-year career (including three years at Philly’s Power 99FM) as one of radio’s most popular personalities. During her time in the region, Williams went from being single to married to motherhood.
“It feels good to be home,” said Williams, as she pulled up to Ishkabibble’s Eatery on South Street. “Philly is the city that made me a woman. I came here a girl. I’d gone through some really hard things with radio in New York. I worked at Power 99. I never thought about being a mother, but when I left here my boyfriend was my husband, our son is now 11 years old — he was born at Methodist Hospital — and I look at life a whole lot differently.”
“The Wendy Williams Show” is known for unpredictable and outrageous stunts and this will continue all November long, every weekday, with a new segment called “Wendy’s Shameless Surprise Stunt.” Still, the multimedia maven would like to book several “dream guests.”
“I would love to have Michelle Obama on, but I don't want to talk politics,” Williams explained. "Michelle Obama and I are the same age, and she is one of the guests I would love to have on. We’re both moms, we’re both women of a particular age and size and are Black. I would love to talk to Judge Judy, she’s a dream guest of mine. There’s not a day in my life, except for Sunday, that I don’t watch Judge Judy. I find her fascinating and incredible. I would love to talk to Oprah, but who wouldn’t want to talk to Oprah. We’ll see what happens. I work with a great team of people. We’ve come this far — maybe we’ll get that Michelle Obama.”
In addition to her daily TV show, Williams (who is also a best-selling author) is excited about her 2012 media options. She’s looking to launch a return to radio, showcase her merchandising skills and extend her acting chops: “I look forward to doing a little more acting. I’m in Steve Harvey’s upcoming movie, ‘Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,’ released in February. I have a small role, but it’s very pivotal — I promise you won’t forget it.”
Beginning Oct. 27 and continuing through Nov. 23, Williams will give away trips to the British Virgin Islands weekdays during the “Watch And Swim” sweepstakes. Every Monday through Friday viewers of the show will find out how they can enter for a chance to win a tropical getaway. Sweepstakes details can be seen at www.wendyshow.com. For all the latest news on Williams, follow @WendyWilliams on Twitter or visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/wendyshow.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —In a Democratic National Convention that featured memorable speeches by first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton, the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, spoke to the American people Thursday night about his first-term accomplishments, and urged voters to elect him to a second term on November 6.
The threat of rain, thunder and lightning during an outdoor speech was the reason the Democratic National Committee and the Obama for America campaign decided to move the speech from the 73,000-seat Bank of America stadium into the smaller 20,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena, where the first two days of events were held.
Obama for America campaign spokesman Tom Reynolds told the Tribune an estimated 65,000 people from all around the nation were expected to see Obama speak at Bank of America stadium, and another 19,000 people had standby tickets.
In an effort to please the thousands of potential voters who were disappointed they could not see Obama speak in person in Charlotte, the president participated in a conference call Thursday before his speech to thank supporters. Obama supporters around the nation, including thousands in Charlotte who had tickets, saw the speech at watch parties or in their hotel rooms.
Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman Jim Burn said Pennsylvania’s electoral votes are key to Obama’s chances of winning the election. He said in order to win, the state party must continue to stress the president’s record over the past three and a half years of job creation (including 29 straight months of national job growth) and saving the country from the possible worst fiscal collapse since the Great Depression.
“African-American voters are as important to Pennsylvania turnout and the success of President Obama as any of our bases,” Burn said. “Sure he (Obama) has a lot of work to do. Every campaign is like a snowflake — there are no two identical campaigns. Most Pennsylvanians, and most Americans, have already made up their minds about who they’re voting for. It’s all about the ground game now, and all about voter turnout. There is nothing in this Republican ticket that is conducive to African-American voters voting for it.”
The delegates to the convention from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are leaving Charlotte fired up about the final weeks of this year’s campaign and ready to go do everything possible to re-elect President Obama and homegrown Vice President Joe Biden, a Delaware senator and Pennsylvania native. Biden also gave a speech accepting his vice-presidential nomination right before the president’s speech.
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, the wife of Philadelphia State Sen. Vincent Hughes, attended the convention with her husband. She says she cannot fathom that any African-American would vote for Romney over Obama.
“Don’t look at me with your Black self and ask, ‘Why should I support the brother?,’” Ralph said. “Stop that foolishness about sitting this thing out. If you’re confused about who to vote for, vote for Barack Obama. What are you going to do? Give your vote to Mitt Romney by voting for nobody? That is madness.”
“Brothers and sisters in the beauty shops and the barber shops know when the okie doke is being played on them,” Sen. Hughes added. “ They know what’s up. We just have to act now like we got some sense and send the message out. When the president says ‘Do you have my back?, we need to stand up and say “yea brother, we’ve got you back and we’re going to stand with you and we’re not going to stand for this foolishness.’”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who delivered a speech yesterday, said a Romney administration would be a disaster for the nation.
“To Mitt Romney, education is a luxury,” Nutter said in prepared remarks. “ As governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed universal pre-K. In his first year, K-12 schools saw drastic cuts that lead to teacher layoffs. He failed his students. Whose values do you want in the Oval Office? I know who Philly wants, who Pennsylvania wants, and who you want — President Barack Obama.”
Philadelphia City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, a delegate to this year’s convention, said now that the Democratic and Republican conventions are over, it is a two-month sprint to Election Day to convince Pennsylvanians and Philadelphians to vote for Obama and Biden.
“I think the public will understand that he (Obama) needs the next four years to complete his agenda,” Tasco said. “From day one, the Republicans made up their minds they weren’t going to do anything to help the president succeed. They don’t want him, and it is personal. I just have to say it — I just think it is outright racism.”
First lady Michelle Obama proved once again Tuesday night that she is her husband’s secret weapon.
Many of the speakers at the opening of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., did a good job of rebutting last week’s Republican convention and defending President Barack Obama’s record.
However Michelle Obama delivered a powerful defense of not only her husband but of traditional Democratic Party’s values of supporting both individual liberty as well as government’s role in creating fairness and equal opportunity for all Americans.
Mrs. Obama did more than just giving a moving speech by a loving wife who thinks her husband deserves to be elected because he’s wonderful.
The first lady tied the personal to the political in a way that can resonate with the voters.
Mrs. Obama described the humble financial beginnings of her and her husband’s family as well as their own marriage and tied it to the struggles of ordinary Americans.
“Our student loan bills were higher than our mortgage,” said Obama. “We were so young, so in love and so in debt.”
She said the president’s work on health care, college loans and more all come from that experience. “These issues aren’t political for him,” she said. “They’re personal.”
“Barrack knows what it means when a family struggles,” she said. “He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids.”
Unlike other convention speakers, the first lady never mentioned Republican challenger Mitt Romney by name, but there was no mistaking of the contrast she was drawing between the two presidential candidates when she laid out her husband’s values, “that how hard you work matters more than how much you make, that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.”
At last week’s Republican convention and throughout his term in office Republicans have attacked the president on both political and personal terms. They have sought to portray Obama through birther conspiracy theories and even a new propaganda film as disconnected and even alien from the fundamental values of America.
By describing her husband’s story as the embodiment of the American Dream and reminding voters of policies he has enacted to help ordinary Americans, Mrs. Obama effectively counters Republican ridiculous implications that the president’s is somehow less American.