(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
As so much of the news focuses on pro-America vs anti-America and the divisions the McCain/Palin campaign is trying to foster, I continue to be amazed at the wonderful stories that are being cataloged at the ground level of people coming together. We don’t often hear these stories in the news, but yesterday, Amar Bakshi shared one in the Washington Post with How W. Va. Democrats Came to Terms with Obama’s Rise.
At the center of the story is Waneta Acker, an 88-year-old woman who has run Democratic headquarters in Wheeling, West Virginia for the last twenty years. During that time, the small, local black community had not been involved in politics. That changed when Obama secured the nomination in June and some black people started showing up at headquarters to volunteer. But she got a preview in April:
Change suddenly arrived on April 12. That day, at the nearby Carpenters Union, supporters of Barack Obama staged a coup of sorts.
It was the Ohio County Democratic Party’s monthly meeting…
In place of the dozen or so participants Acker expected, at least 50 Barack Obama devotees showed up, clad in blue T-shirts, baseball caps, and buttons blaring: “PROGRESS.”
“Who are these people?!” Acker demanded. She didn’t know them, “And that’s unusual because I know gillions of people.”
Stranger still, they were “mostly dark, black, African American or what have you.” That’s through Acker’s eyes. In fact, less than one in three of those Obama-backers were black, though that is still a relatively large ratio in this 93 percent white town. To Acker, anyway, it looked like a flood of strange newcomers.
The fear Acker was feeling was palpable.
Acker feared “retaliation” for ancestral sins. “Black people were treated horrible in the past and might start showing the white people what it’s like,” Acker mused. Maybe they’ll “get cocky” if Obama wins.
Even if he didn’t win, she feared that Obama’s candidacy could hurt local Democratic candidates. If the headquarters is covered in Obama paraphernalia, Acker wondered, “How many white people will come in the office? That’s what I’m looking forward to [seeing].”…
She wagged a finger. “They’re not going to rule me! If they think they are going to come in there and push me around, no way. No way!”
Then word came that the Democratic Office and the Obama Campaign Office had to merge. Acker knew she had no choice.
Acker consented. “That’s right. That’s right.” She couldn’t stomach the idea of another Republican in the White House so she began calling her friends on behalf of Obama. “We don’t have much choice,” she said.
“We got him [Obama]. He was nominated. We have to accept it.”
Five months later, what’s happening???
And the same local white Democrats kept coming to the headquarters, despite the life-sized cutouts of Obama. “I was surprised so many of them [white Democrats] have changed,” says Acker. “Where they didn’t accept the fact that he was colored, now they’ve changed their attitude. Really.”
“I also had some concern because he was colored that they [Obama volunteers] might turn the table on us here, but now when I see the way people have really worked together and banded together, I see a different way.”
“It’s a different era,” she muses. “I accept it.”
It doesn’t look like the odds are high that Obama will win West Virginia. But it does look like the people of Wheeling are ready for change.