8.26.2008

Fannie’s Dancin’ in Heaven

Last night, I listened to the next First Lady of the United States of America and man, that woman is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fine. The words to describe her are just too mediocre. She was elegant, classy, confident, emotional, mesmerizing, engaging....totally, totally together. I’m in love!

Wow!

Listening to Michelle made me recall all of the conventions that I’ve watched or attended. Thinking about the women who had taken the podium, some of them going on to become first lady. Some of them there simply to speak and support the candidate of the hour.

Last night, prior to Michelle, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi spoke and other than wearing a wonderful white suit, she failed to hold my interest.

Michelle’s sister in law, Barack’s younger sister also spoke. Gorgeous woman. Poised. Wonderful voice. Oratory ability obviously runs in that family.

But it was truly Michelle’s night. She followed Ted Kennedy and for a moment I wondered if she was up to following him. She was. A couple of sentences in and I forgot Teddy..no offense intended.

I was at Madison Square Garden in 1980 when Ted conceded to Jimmy Carter. I consider his speech that night to be one of the greatest political speeches I’ve ever heard. So he is no pushover to follow.

Michelle made me think of Fannie Lou Hamer, a voting rights worker who would not be denied. She was from Mississippi, the youngest of 20 children and the granddaughter of slaves. She was the first to penetrate my immature psyche and awaken my unquenchable thirst for politics. I watched her at the Democratic Convention in 1964. I was fourteen at the time and the convention was the only thing on TV, I was watching. Ms. Hamer was the leader of the Freedom Democrats, a group that challenged the seating at the convention of Mississippi’s all white delegation.

Ms Hamer faced down the likes of LBJ, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, J Edgar Hoover on a compromise seating arrangement that was even endorsed by Martin Luther King Jr. The compromise would’ve given the Freedom Democrats just two seats in the delegation. Hamer lost the argument. But the confrontation ultimately led to a change in rules on seating.

My fourteen year old brain didn’t recall much of what she said. I do remember this round brown woman talking tough to all those white men and not being afraid when she did it. She wasn’t havin’ any of their B.S. and she told em so. It was 1964. I remember the emotion that welled up in me. The pride of seeing that “illiterate woman” as President Lyndon Johnson called her, stand up for blacks in Mississippi and blacks in general;

"We didn't come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn't come all this way for no two seats, 'cause all of us is tired."

"I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."-Fannie Lou Hamer’s epitaph

Michelle touched on that same pride last night. Made me think of Shirley Chisolm, the first black woman elected to congress, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the first black woman to have her name placed in nomination for the democratic candidate for president. This was back in 1972. I was 21 at the time. The first year I was eligible to vote for president. It was symbolic. Ms Chisolm was supported by a diverse group of people including the National Organization for Women. George McGovern went on to take the nomination. I voted for George, but I’ll never forget Ms. Chisolm.

Recent first ladies with the exception of Hillary, have been stepford wives....frozen smiles...no substance...non-engaging....cold.....Michelle is definitely not in that mold.

She is real. The kind of woman you can be friends with. Did I say I’m in love? Yeah...well, I’ll say it again...I’m in love with Michelle...I hope she makes it to the White House!
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