As she spoke, Lee stood on the concourse level of the Time Warner Cable Arena, other delegates whizzing by, many of them people of color. The Democratic Party reported that 40 percent of convention delegates were minorities.
If Obama loses, Atlanta radio talk show host Mo Ivory worries that the country may not be ready to put another African American in the White House anytime soon.
His presidency has been euphoric in many ways for black Americans, but it has created some tensions. Some African American leaders have complained that he didn’t do enough to help black communities struggling under the recession, while Obama and his defenders have said he cannot be a president just for blacks.
“Sometimes I think America wasn’t ready to embrace what a black president would mean,” Ivory said. “Even African Americans have expectations that were unrealistic. And America became very divided over him, and this figure that he is, whether or not he’s a black president or a president for everybody.”
Yet Ivory feels protective. “There is a fever pitch around the slogan, ‘We’ve got your back,’ ” she said. “We say that in the African American community. And we’re going to be there for him, the same as we were in 2008.”
That sentiment was deeply felt, and repeatedly expressed, during a meeting Thursday morning at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church. Pastors from the Carolinas drove in to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and one by one, the event turned into an impromptu rally for the president.
“If we elect Barack Obama, sure he’s going to be the president for everybody in the United States, and he’s always going to stand up and say, ‘I can’t single out this group or that group,’ ” said Rep. Mel Watt, whose Charlotte district includes the church.
But then Watt, typically low-key and monotone, suddenly erupted, like a preacher, and laid out why this president’s success is so vital to him — why “this is personal.”
“I know that Barack Obama looks like me,” Watt thundered, “and I know that he has some of our blood running through his veins.”
With that, the audience rose to its feet. “Yes!” shouted some. “Amen!”
Watt appeared stunned by his own emotion. And several women, clearly moved, rubbed their eyes with handkerchiefs.