Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jane: Inauguration

On Inauguration Day, one of my journalism students had a short piece in the local newspaper. They'd asked for stories about ordinary people and the Obama campaign.

I encouraged all my students to share an observation or experience from this past year--from the campaign, the caucus, voting, or inauguration day. It's their chance to do some "citizen journalism."

Here's what I would share.

I wasn't sure if I would caucus for Obama or not. I heard him speak at Coe College, and was impressed by his knowledge. I loved his eloquence. But I wondered whether he could gather enough momentum to inspire the country. Many of my friends who are slightly older than me were supporting Hillary and encouraging me to be a good feminist and support her. My husband, a political science professor, liked Richardson.

So when I got to the caucus, I hadn't completely decided who I'd support. As I looked around at the huge crowd, I scanned for the Obama signs. They were in the middle of the overcrowded school cafeteria, and all sorts of people were holding them: dark faces, light faces. Women, men. Teens and senior citizens. A lesbian couple I know and some well-known well-to-do folks. They were smiling and calling out to one another and to the people who came in.

It was the feeling of this group that won me over. They were united, they were diverse, they were inviting and welcoming. There wasn't any name-calling or vindictiveness there. Just lots of energy, hope, and confident patience.

So in the end, it wasn't Obama himself who convinced me; it was the Obama supporters themselves.

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