With so much talk of people ready to renounce their support of President Obama if his speech next Wednesday, September 9th, does not satisfy, I’ve decided to post a piece I wrote upon my return from Denver last August. If your support for Obama is wavering, I hope it reminds you of where we’ve been & where are can still go. If your support is still steadfast I hope it makes you smile & proud. Enjoy.
And then there was Denver ~ The Convention ~ The Speech…
…I still can’t believe I was there.
I’m having a hard time processing it. And an even harder time being able to articulate what it was like to be there. Words, spoken or written, do not seem adequate to convey my experiences in Denver. I’m emotionally drained. To try to express it to you would almost be an insult to the historical event we all witnessed. But I will try. Here are some highlights of my 48 hours in The Mile High State:
Denver was amazing. I arrived Wednesday night, checking into my hotel in time to hear Bill & Joe. Wonderful town, lovely people, even the weather was great – hot, but not TOO hot for this SF native hot weather wimp. The streets were jam packed with people; wall to wall Obama love. Everyone was wearing their Obama gear & high fiving & hugging. You’d walk down the street & make eye contact with a stranger & you would just smile at one another, shaking your head in disbelief. It was as if we were all in on a big secret; like we were part of a secret club. Except that it was no longer a secret. In some cases people would just say to one another, “Can you believe this? Can you believe we’re here?” Walking with a sense of purpose & confidence through the streets of Denver & throughout the Convention Center & surrounding hotel lobbies, with a head tilt/nod/raise of vaguely cocky acknowledgment to one another as if to say, “We got this. We GOT this.” I kept thinking of that movie with Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder as they strut around saying, “That’s right, we bad, we bad.” HA! That’s how I felt!
This city girl doesn’t normally walk down the street smiling at strangers & saying “Hi!” let alone saying, “Hi! How are you? Great day isn’t it? Lookin’ good?” But on the streets of Denver it was as if we were in our own little Obama world. And, truth be told, up to this point, most of the Obama adventures I’ve had have been populated by more White folk than Black. From here at home in SF & even when I was in TX it was that way. Well, in Denver Black folk were out in force. It was really something to see. They were there en masse. Entire families, several generations deep. And so everyone was greeting one another as if we were all long lost relatives… which in a sense we are. But for those of us who live in areas where Black folk are truly the minority you can lose sight of that connection with one another.
Most of my time was spent with friends I met back in April when we ran to be delegates & new friends – delegates from the great state of Virginia, which I felt was so fitting for this CA native as some of the most cherished people in my life are from our nation’s birthplace.
On Thursday morning I was invited to attend the morning breakfast meeting for the Virginia delegates. I was also honored to be invited to The Women’s Caucus (again, thanks to a Virginia delegate) where we heard speakers ranging from Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and of course, Michele Obama herself. Michele was lovely & honest & sincere. She spoke very movingly about the challenges of being a working mother & trying to juggle it all. At one point she told us that she was going to need us to have her back moving forward. It was very REAL, a girlfriend saying to her other girlfriends that she needed us to support & carry her through the course of HER improbable journey. She got an “I am woman hear me” roar from the crowd. I will always remember her heartfelt plea & she can rest assured that I’ve got her back today & always.
You may have heard that four anti-choice protesters were there. They walked right past me. I knew they were up to something just by the way they were walking & carrying themselves. When they turned around, faced the audience & opened their jackets to reveal their anti-choice sloganed shirts, we ALL jumped to our feet, pumped our fists up in the air with a chant of, “Obama! Obama!” & they were peacefully escorted out. I had never experienced something like that. I have only seen it on TV. I have to admit, it was a bit scary, a little exciting & very powerful. I was literally shaking while I was pumping my fist. Major adrenaline rush. When we left the room & headed outside of Convention Center they were still there being interviewed & protesting peacefully.
Oh & for the record, I met quite a few HRC supporters while I was in Denver. They were 100% on board with Obama. No doubts. No bitterness. A few of them made up their minds right after HRC’s speech. For them, they needed to hear it from her. They felt good about her speech & they were very happy to be with us. Whenever I met an HRC supporter I gave them a hug & told them how proud I was of them & of HRC. It was very healing for all of us. They were still very emotional & often had tears in their eyes. I have so much respect for them. I would hope that if the tables were turned I would be able to be as gracious & kind as they were. It was not easy for them to get to that frame of mind, but they did, with all of their hearts & souls & we must never forget that!
After The Women’s Caucus we had lunch at an outdoor café. I was chatting with a woman at the table next to us who happened to be a delegate from…yup, Virginia. Her name was Iris & she asked me where my seat was for the speech. I told her that I was the only one in my group without a ticket but that I was just happy to be in Denver. She reached in her purse, pulled out a ticket & handed it to me. And not just any ticket. It was one of the VIP tickets that granted access everywhere BUT the main stage. I’m not even joking. I was sobbing & hugging her & then my friends were sobbing & then she was sobbing & we all hugged & posed for pictures to commemorate the moment. Virginians just might be the most charming, hospitable & generous people you will ever meet. I made friends for life.
After lunch everyone headed to the stadium. Two of us (me & my new friend Kimberly from, yes, Virginia, who you’ll read about later) decided to take a cab there but most folks walked. It was quite powerful to see thousands of people walking across the overpass towards the stadium. Young, old, Black, White, all walking towards history. Very powerful. Very moving.
We joined the LONG line, which snaked around & around the parking lot for what was probably three miles long. We were on line for about two hours. There were NO cops, NO volunteers, NO security while we were on line. No one directing people where to go or supervising the line. It was a grassroots effort to keep it under control. LOL. And we did. It was quite mind blowing to see this MOB of people behave so calmly, peaceful & graciously in the hot sun for hours. We had the opportunity to cut & get in quicker & many folks did, but we felt that being on line with 1000’s of other Obama supporters was part of the experience. We had such a great time meeting other people, laughing, singing, & battling away cutters. This one older Black woman in line with us would take her purse & start swinging it, good naturedly, if anyone even THOUGHT about cutting into our section. She was a HOOT! We called ourselves, The Family, about 20 of us on our part of the line, who shared water & snacks, took Family photos. We were from San Francisco, New Orleans (our fearless purse swinger!), Denver, Chicago & New York. When we entered the stadium we all went our separate ways & it was actually a little sad to say goodbye. But we had all exchanged email addresses & I hope we will keep in touch.
On our way into the stadium doors we came across The Daily Show crew filming. Not many people realized it was them. There were only about five people standing around them. They were doing this skit where they were dressed in Obama sports jerseys as if they were drunken football fans. They actually wanted to film/interview me but I was too shy & vain. Ok, I was mostly vain. We had been out in the sun & heat for over two hours & I was feeling kinda grimy & sweaty & not so cute.
Seats were basically first come first served. I was able to use my ticket to find two seats that were still available up front & center, basically on the Club Level right opposite the podium on the stage.
THE SPEECH. First let it be known that there weren’t 74K people there. Nor were there 80K or 84K. There were 90K people there (FACT!) AND they had to turn people away. And as far as I know there was not one arrest or any major problems.
It’s hard to express what it was like to bear witness to The Speech & all the great music & speakers who preceded it. Our new favorite hero is Barney Smith. Not sure if the TV coverage picked up the chants of “Barney! Barney” that rang out. He was our Everyman & most certainly dispelled the idiotic notion that Obama is all about celebrity & fluff. Mr. Smith was a real as they come. The crowd took him into our hearts.
And have you ever felt & heard 90K people stamping their feet in unison or doing the wave over & over in flawless synchronicity? Well, I have! I’ve never done the wave before! It was so fun…except they kept doing it & doing it & I was like, “Ok, we get it. Can we sit now” LOL! It was very fun though. I felt like a little kid.
The event was flawlessly orchestrated. The venue was spectacular. Everything was Red, White & Blue. The stadium was dazzling & picture perfect. The air was warm, calm with a lovely breeze; there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The huge TV screens were flanked by HYPERLINK “http://www.barackobama.com” www.barackobama.com in gold lights. The production ran smoothly without a hitch. The stage hands were sleek, dressed all in black & there was none of that chaotic running to & fro that you often see at all day concerts. There were no long gaps of empty stage/air-time. It was a finely tuned, well-oiled machine. Efficient, effective. Just like the Obama campaign itself. Even the music between the speakers & performances was amazing. Classic Motown blaring. Everyone was dancing, rocking out & partying (no alcohol, just high on life & change & hope!) & hugging & saying to one another, “Can you believe this?” It’s hard to express what it felt like. I felt like I was in an alternate universe; a universe where Obama is King & everyone is full of love & peace & hope & grace. I know that sounds REALLY dorky but oh well, there it is. There was one mishap: In my attempt to do the bump while dancing with Kimberly I nearly sent her flying into the laps of the people next to her! Her petite 5’5” didn’t stand a chance against my 5’10” frame & accompanying hips. She actually was airborne! It was sooooo hilarious.
I have never in my life waved an American Flag – literally or figuratively – but on that historic day I waved that little flag they gave us as if my life depended on it. Because the truth is it DOES. And then I carefully folded it up & brought it home with me where it now hangs on my home office wall. THAT is a first!
I’ve often wondered how it is that at political events everyone ends up with the same props to wave. Now I know: volunteers would cover the stadium with props & tell us exactly when to use them. A bit of orchestrated patriotism but we were glad to oblige. They gave us the BIG American flags to wave when Gore spoke; the little flags to wave throughout the day & the Obama Change signs to wave when Obama hit the stage. For some reason I was really excited to take those stage directions. Not sure why. It just felt kinda cool to be part of that.
When the video about Obama started to play, the emotion of what was to come started to become overpowering. It was an out of body experience. I was flooded with memories of the first donation I made online to Obama back in November. I remembered the 1000’s of phone calls I made to states near & far to ensure support for Obama in the primaries & those all important caucuses. I thought of the signs I waved on the corner of Castro & Market Streets on Super Tuesday & the hours I’ve logged on the Obama Blog. I thought of the trip I took to Austin, TX in April & the friends I made while I was there. The Texas Two Step & the mayhem that ensued. I thought of everything I had been through, the sacrifices, the life savings gladly depleted, the debates watched with nerves on edge. The wacky pleas for donations on my FR page. The friends made & yes, one or two lost, due to my Obama obsession. But mostly I thought of my Blog Family & all the kindness & support they have shown me. You were in my heart & I took in a deep breath, with eyes closed, to savior the moment for all of us!
So now here I was in Denver. And Obama was about to take the stage. THIS was the moment we had all worked for. More than the moment when he puts his hand on that bible to take the oath of office THIS was the moment we had all worked so hard for. Everything I had done was for this man to be able to become the Democratic Nominee. Everything! And now the moment was here. It was happening. And, despite all odds, despite the fact that just three hours ago I didn’t even have a ticket, I was there to witness it. Unbelievable! Many folks were making frantic calls to friends right before he came on stage, as if to mark the moment, sharing it with loved ones far away. I made one myself. So did Kimberly. We all did.
Obama walked out on the stage & it was literally as if a new life for us all had begun. He walked out on that stage & he accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination of him for POTUS. And from that moment on life as we knew it was & never would be the same. We knew it. And yes, he knew it. You could see it on his face, the way he held his smile in a taut strained way as if to hold the emotion & possibly the tears back. You could see it on his face. The shiny gleam of a tear in his eye. You could see it. You could feel it. I felt as though I was floating. It was an out of body experience. I can’t help but cry as I write this.
Since I’ve been home I’ve watched the speech on CSPAN several times & it was interesting to see it from that vantage point. On TV everything looked so massive. And it was. But somehow when Obama spoke, he was able to make a football stadium filled with 90K people feel intimate. There were moments during his speech when you could have heard a pin drop. Each & every person in that stadium felt every word he said. And when I saw FELT I mean we physically felt them. Each word pierced our hearts & soothed our souls & inspired our hopes. I think it’s because we all knew that this was history. We all knew that every word Obama spoke was literally washing away painful memories of our nation’s history that have, for so long, prevented many of us from feeling truly proud of & connected to our country. With every word he was writing a new page of history for a new day of hope. It was as if we could literally FEEL the change happening within us; as if we were shedding a layer of skin along with the hurt & doubt & pessimism. It was as if we were collectively putting on a new skin, ripe with promise & hope & change & restitution & optimism.
There were moments when he spoke that simultaneously struck through the souls & bodies & hearts of 90K people. One of them was when Obama said, very pointedly, about the past eight years, “ENOUGH!” I don’t know how it read on TV but in that stadium it was profound. It almost scared us. One Black woman near me instinctively shouted out, in the way that only a woman of her history & dialectic could say, “DAAMN!” We all burst out laughing. It was the first time we had heard Obama say something with such force, anger & strength. His voice reverberated throughout the Denver night & if anyone ever doubted this man’s ability to be forceful, to lead, to take charge, to get angry, all doubts were obliterated with that fierce command. Some of us thought it was kinda sexy too. But that is another story for another day.
There was another moment that struck me in a very powerful way. Obama was challenging each of us to do better, be better, to bring America to her full potential, reminding us that we could, that we must. I actually found myself nodding my head up & down, tears streaming down my face, saying out loud, “Ok, I will. I promise. I will.” It makes me cry just thinking about it. I vowed then & there to try to be a better person, to try to give more & do more in every aspect of my life. I suddenly felt unworthy of this man’s faith in me & I vowed that I would try to live up to the expectations & hope & promise that he saw in all of us. Without sounding over dramatic, it felt like a religious experience. I’m not sure what those are supposed to feel like. All I know is that I felt as though if this improbably journey could lead this man to this stage on this night then anything was possible. Any dream could come true. There was nothing that could not be achieved. He had proven it & he was encouraging us, demanding of us that we set our dreams, ambitions, goals as high towards the mile high moon as we could.
That this night fell, by pure coincidence, on the 45th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream” speech, just two years less than Obama has been on this earth, three more than I have, was of course almost as if the timing were heavenly ordained. And when Obama tenderly made reference to the young preacher from Atlanta, 90K people collective drew their breath in & 90K hearts skipped a beat. We KNEW the date of the day. But to hear Obama refer it & to see with our own eyes the young preacher’s dream realized – well, there are moments in life that are simply so profound they actually hurt. They touch your soul so deep inside that it aches. It’s as if time stands still & you see America’s life flash before your eyes. It’s impossible to describe.
And there was most definitely a palpable difference in the way Black folks reacted to & felt the speech. I don’t say that to cause division. It is just fact. For me, a bi-racial person, the Obama adventure has been about a lot of things, the LEAST of which, for me, has been race. YES, it is a crucial part of what makes this man so compelling. But we all know that not all folks are created equally. I did not expect to be so affected by the history of the moment. Maybe that was naïve of me, but I really didn’t. But as it was happening & I saw the reaction of the Black folk around me & I felt Kimberly trembling beside me & I looked at this man on the stage whose skin tone is the same caramel hue as mine, it just overwhelmed me. It DID become about the fact that a Black man was receiving the nomination, and even more so, for a moment, than the fact that it was Obama himself. A Black man was on his way to be POTUS. And as 90K people waved the little fans we had gathered throughout the day with a photo of MLK, Jr & the words, “I Have A Dream” to cool themselves, it was overwhelming. We dreamt the dream for so many years & we were waking up on a warm Denver night & THIS time it was no longer a dream. It was REAL! It was happening. And we were there to witness it.
When you looked around you, everyone was breathing in the hope & history & change that he spoke of. But when you looked at the Black people it was different. We literally were clinging on to one anther. People who had been strangers only a few hours earlier wrapped around one another as if to physically hold each other up, as the wave of history washed over us, for fear that we might collapse under the enormity of it all. We truly leaned on one another, like the song says, providing strength & comfort. Kimberly & I were holding on to one another for dear life.
And we cried. And when I say cried I mean sobbed. And when I say sobbed I mean our bodies literally shaking with emotion & we did that ugly cry that happens when all vanity goes out the window, even though local TV cameras were fixed on Kimberly & I. I’m sure they looked at the footage & decided not to air it! LOL! We were not looking cute!
Later on the news I saw footage of Oprah as she watched the speech. And I was struck by what I saw. She was sitting among a group of white people. They were clearly moved by the speech. But Oprah’s reaction was different. Exactly like me, she had her hand over her mouth, as if she was afraid to let the sounds of her emotions escape for fear of what it would sound like. Exactly like me, her body was heaving with tears. Exactly like me, she was doing the ugly cry. And exactly like me, a friend reached over to wrap her arms around her in what most would call a hug but I call a healing embrace that doesn’t end when most hugs do. In Oprah’s case, the friend was Mary J Blige. In my case it was, Kimberly, who was by my side all day, a middle school assistant principal (which of course meant that we had so much in common as we are school administrators), who as we later discovered, shares the exact same birthday as me in day, month & year. And just like Oprah, as the news reported, Kimberly turned to me through her tears to ask, “Are my eyelashes still on?” to which we dissolved in giggles through our tears. Every emotion you can imagine, we felt it.
In that moment we were simply four Black women, not separated by fame, fortune or position, but rather united by history of our heritage & the emotion of the moment.
And when those precious little girls walked out on the stage after the speech with their mother & father ~ the future First Family in color coordinated hues of Royalty ~ every Black person in that crowd realized we were witnessing a dream come to life, albeit a dream that many never dared to dream. For younger Black folks the reaction seemed to be more jubilant. Their tears mixed with confident smiles. Everything in their lives thus far has led them to believe this day Should & Would come true. For older folks it was almost as if they were in disbelief. The tears seemed tinged with a bit of sorrow, as if they were remembering everything they had endured in their lives to get to this point; perhaps wishing that loved ones long gone were there to witness it with them; possibly not even believing what they were seeing was real. Everything in their lives thus far had led them to believe that this Should but might never come true.
It was perhaps the most powerful moment for many of us. I kept saying through my tears as I shook my head, “It’s just too much. It’s just too much”. I felt like I couldn’t absorb it all. I actually had to look away for a moment. That sounds odd, I know, but I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was as if I had to look away & then look back to make sure what I was seeing was real.
When Mr. & Mrs. Biden & Mr. & Mrs. Obama huddled together on stage – not sure if they showed that on TV – it was another especially moving, sweet, intimate moment. These two couples, sharing this moment, arms wrapped around one another, standing forehead to forehead. The crowd went wild. There was nothing contrived about it. We could only imagine what they were thinking & saying to one another. Knowing Barack we could imagine it was thoughtful & profound. Knowing Joe we could imagine it was funny & irreverent. And then when Barack’s sister was on stage I kept thinking, “I can’t believe it’s her! I have a photo with her framed in my living room & THERE she is”. I was so happy for her, my friend. I feel I can call her that. I know she wouldn’t mind.
And when Barack & Michelle shared that intimate moment at the very end, the crowd almost lost their minds. In the midst of this massive event among 90K people, you could FEEL not only the love & respect they share but how truly moved they both were by the moment. They literally took our breath away as she nuzzled her head against his neck & he closed his eyes & pulled her tight in his arms. Have you ever heard 90K people sigh in sweet admiration? And it is true that Obama was VERY close to tears at the end. You could tell that he was taking it all in & humbled by the nights events. It was truly breathtaking.
Later in the evening I met a woman who had the privilege of going back stage after the speech. She said that the Biden grandkids & the Obama girls were running around playing tag & throwing confetti in the air & squealing & all the adults were in tears, hugging & high fiving & looking at one another with disbelief & glee. She said there was nothing that would make you think these were jaded politicians but rather families joining together to celebrate their collective accomplishments! She said they looked like they just found out they had won the lotto – which in a way they had. Everyone was delirious & proud & giddy. It was jolly mayhem! It’s heartening to know that they felt the way WE felt.
As 90K people filed out of the stadium the festive atmosphere prevailed. People were still crying & hugging & shaking their heads in disbelief. Some were singing. Some were just in quiet revere. Others were howling at the moon. Some were dancing. We linked arms with a bunch of strangers & just enjoyed the moment as we walked away from the stadium. And then for some reason Kimberly & I fell into a fit of the giggles & were bent over in hysterics. I think we had been so emotional & focused during the speech that once we got out in the open space of the parking lot we kind of just had a mini-emotional breakdown! We just had to get it out of our system. LOL I’m not sure how to explain it. We kind of just lost our minds for a moment. Maybe you had to be there. I don’t know. All I know is we just laughed & laughed & laughed as we made our way back to the shuttles that took us back to downtown Denver where the revelry continued.
I still can’t believe I was THERE. All I can say is that it was, without a doubt, the single most profound experience of my life. My life can now be divided into two parts. Life Before The Speech. And Life After The Speech.
After The Speech we attended THE PARTY of the night hosted by Wil.I.Am & the Black Eyed Peas. Fergie performed with them, as well as Herbie Hancock & John Legend. The audience was a mix of regular folks, major celebrities & many news folks letting their down. Where else could you stand & dance next to Hill Harper, Kerry Washington, Kevin Frazier, Stevie Wonder, Daniel Dae Kim, ME, Biz Marque and pretty much every pro-athlete that didn’t have a game that night. Everyone mixed in with everyone else. No one was treated like or acting like a star. The bar was open, the music was amazing & everyone was there to show love for Obama.
The concert ended at 3am & our party kept going with, among other things, what may go down in history as the most raucous, hysterically funny trip to a drive-in Burger King. After that we hung out in one of our hotel rooms & just laughed & laughed & acted like we were teenagers, putting French Fries up the noses of those who had the misfortune to pass out & reenacted our favorite memories of the day, although I think our memories were slightly altered & our reenactments vaguely exaggerated & over-embellished to ensure that we were the heroes of every scenario. Then someone would laugh so hard that they would make that snorting noise & then the rest of us would laugh so hard at that WE would make that snorting noise too & on & on. We laughed so hard that we were literally rolling on the floor, literally! Everyone was on the same goofy wave length, just happy & silly & tired & overwhelmed & happy to be there sharing this adventure with one another. Needless to say, no one went to sleep that night. I haven’t pulled an all nighter in a LONG time but it was worth it!
We all vowed then & there that we would make plans to be in DC together in January. We were going to ride this train together to the end on 1/20/09!
As the morning news revealed the news of McCain’s VP pick, we were rattled back to reality. CLEARLY McCain has officially gone senile, thinking he is running for Prom King, not POTUS. What a complete & utter joke & insultingly pathetic & desperate decision on his part. And that is all I will say on the subject…for now.
In an effort to keep the party going & refuse to let the insanity of McCain get them down, my new Virginian friends decided to take a road trip to Vail. As my flight was leaving that night I decided to pass up the road trip, get freshened up & go back into downtown Denver to buy Obama swag for friends & enjoy the rest of my time with a casual walk along the mall & a late lunch. And then it was on the airport.
On the plane I sat with a lovely older Black woman who was also at the speech. Her son was a delegate from…you guessed it, Virginia. She had the high honor of sitting with the King family for the speech. I commented that they must have been very emotional. She said, that oddly, they were not. We couldn’t quite figure out why that was. And as it turned out she was heading to SF to visit her daughter who is one of our evening news anchors on ABC. The young man sitting between us was bi-racial, around twenty years old, from Alabama who was visiting his sister in SF. He said that while he wasn’t able to go to the speech he had put an Obama sign in his window & a bumper sticker on his car just a few weeks ago & that for the first time in his life he was interested & involved in politics. He was so endearing that I gave him a handful of the Obama pins I had purchased earlier in the day.
One oddly touching moment that happened on the flight was when a young American solider was clearly in a bad state. Drinking straight Vodka will do that. He was walking down the aisle & it was clear that he was TRASHED. His face was ghost white & he ended up standing right next to me as the snack cart was in his way. I looked up at him & thought, “Holy crap, he’s gonna blow!” Sure enough, he started to upchuck. I leapt into the lap of the young man next to me. The flight attendant walked the solider into the restroom where he stayed for the remainder of the flight. Right before we landed they walked him back to his seat & propped him up. When we disembarked you could tell he was clearly embarrassed. He started apologizing & I said, “Sweetheart, if anyone is entitled to get their drink on it’s you. You do what you gotta do. Maybe add some juice next time, though.” Everyone started laughing. Poor kid. It was sorta funny, but sorta sad. He looked like he was barely 17 years old. I hope he will be ok. His face still haunts me.
So, now I’m home & I find myself constantly on the verge of tears. The emotion of my time in Denver is still all consuming. It’s hard to get back to life as we know it. I can’t focus on anything. It’s hard to get my mind back into the tasks of the day. I simply cannot believe I was there. I see clips of the events in Denver on the TV & my throat tightens & the tears well up in my eyes. I was there. Can it be? I wish I could go back & relive it again…and again & again.
But alas, it’s over. I am home. Work tomorrow. But I am fired up & ready to go. I am ready to get back in the trenches. There is a new fierce sense of urgency now. We have made history. It was overwhelming. I am OVERCOME. As the song says, We Shall & We Have.