She’s volunteering for Obama’s reelection campaign, as are many of her friends, but Dancy grew frustrated at times this week with some of the news coverage of the Democratic National Convention — little things, she said, like the wording of the party platform. The media’s missing the real story, she thought.
“This is something deep in our community,” she said Thursday as she prepared to leave a rally at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church, a few miles from the arena where Obama would speak hours later. “It’s about people who were on the outside in the 1960s; we’re on the inside now.”
Across Charlotte this week, wherever blacks congregated, there was an unmistakable vibe. From the street vendors selling “I’ve Got Your Back” T-shirts emblazoned with Obama’s silhouette to the misty-eyed delegates who choked up at the mere mention of the first couple, African Americans were expressing a special sense of urgency about this election.
The 2008 election and Obama’s inauguration brought jubilation, almost disbelief, for blacks who never thought they would see one of their own reach that pinnacle of power. Now, that feeling of joy for many blacks has turned to determination, and a little bit of fear, as they begin to see victory in November as a necessary affirmation of what happened in 2008.
“Four years ago there was a changing of the guard, and this year there’s a guarding of the change we started,” said Wendell Pierce, the actor and businessman who played Detective Bunk Moreland in HBO’s “The Wire” and attended the convention.
Pierce said conservative critics have treated and judged this black president “by a different set of standards” than his white predecessors, proving the adage Pierce said he learned from his parents: blacks always have to be 10 times better than others “because you’re perceived to be lesser than.”
“If President Obama had cured cancer, they’d have found a problem,” he said.
Many African Americans attending the festivities said that Obama needs the protection of his people, even if some have disagreed with his policies at times or felt let down by his performance in office.
The weight of history was never far from people’s minds. In conversations, they discussed what some viewed as iconic images of the black presidency: the Oval Office photo in which a 5-year-old black boy touched the president’s hair to see if it felt the same as his; the news conference in which Obama said that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” referring to the black teenager shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida; the Barack-Michelle smooch on the Verizon Center “KissCam” during a U.S. men’s basketball team exhibition game.