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Monday, September 01, 2008

The Detroit Speech

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks to supporters at Hart Plaza in Detroit.
(AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Andre J. Jackson)

The original plan for our family's Labor Day weekend didn't involve Detroit or Barack Obama, but that changed. We went to see the Mt. Pleasant High School jazz band perform at the Detroit Jazz Festival - more on that later - and a Detroit Tiger game. But when we heard that Obama would stage a rally Monday, we thought, Why not? Why not see what this is all about?

Supporters cheered when Obama said he didn't choke on the word "union."
(Photo by Robert Ranzenberger/The Ranzenblog)

We were surrounded by a huge, extremely well-behaved crowd. There was no rowdiness, except for the huge cheers for the candidate. There was no booze, almost no line-cutting that I saw, and just a sense that this is a Movement, not just a candidacy.

The crowd spilled out beyond Hart Plaza, filling up several blocks of Jefferson and Woodward.

Long lines snaked through downtown Detroit as people waited to get through security and enter the event along Detroit's riverfront.

The line my family and I joined turned out to be 15 blocks long, but it moved fairly quickly. The people waiting to see the Democratic presidential nominee were black, white, mostly middle class, and frankly, looked like America.

Much of the crowd didn't take much convincing.

Often, when I've gone to Detroit, I've gotten a sense of hopelessness and defeat. That's easy to understand. But there was none of that this time. I hesitate to say there's a sense of optimism, but there's certainly a sense of the future among the people who saw Barack Obama in Motown.


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