Eye Witness to History: Surprise Edwards Endorsement of Obama in
Angela Teresa Haddad*
On Wednesday, May 14, 2008, at 6:30 p.m. at the Van Andel Arena in
At 1:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday, I picked up two close friends who agreed to join me for the two hour drive to see and hear our pick for the next president of the United Sates. We three forged our friendship over many years of living and working in a place that was unkind to new or diverse ideas or people. In Obama, we saw a new type of leader that challenged the mean-spiritedness and divisions that had come to be typical of our politics, our country, and our everyday lives.
The day before the Obama rally, I emailed several friends about Obama’s visit but with only one day’s notice, only these two friends were able to take off nearly a day to go to
As we walked towards the arena, we realized that we were going to find ourselves at the end of one of two lines that was three blocks long an hour and a half before the doors were scheduled to open. We took our place in line, behind a young mother in her early thirties and her four year old son. We greeted her and other fellow supporters on line and made “small talk” to pass the time. We said something along the lines of “wow this is exciting and where are you from?” In a lyrical
Sometime around 4:00 or so, the line began moving. Shortly before 4:30 we were escorted through the doors, the metal detectors, and into the auditorium. By the time we made it in, few choice seats were left. After some scouting around, we settled on the section immediately behind the press area and found three empty seats near the end of a row. As we sat waiting, we began talking and chatting with the people around us. To my left sat an African American man from
At 6:45, came a loud and Obama took the stage. He said, I have a surprise for you
As the event ended the crowd lingered inside the auditorium and so did we. The feelings inside that place were too special to just walk out into the cold night. One by one, the crowd dispersed out the door and we too meandered out into the night.
Outside the arena, a crowd had gathered around the back of the arena. They lined up along a police barricade hoping to catch a glimpse of the motorcade and we joined along. As the motorcade drove away with Obama and Edwards grinning from ear to ear and waving, we grinned too. As one of my friends said earlier that evening, this day, this candidate is about more than a political campaign. This is a movement from the ground up and we too have now become a part of what will surely be a historical moment. We the people, inspired by Barack Obama, are now part of something that cannot and will not be stopped.
* Joyce Baugh contributed to this article.
Angela Haddad is an Associate Professor of Sociology at