What an amazing new day- a new era! Last night I was at the Oakland Obama headquarters at the Convention Center with about 500 other supporters. We had been phone banking all day. The last call sheet I got was for- yes- Wasilla, Alaska. Those calls did not go so well- so we quickly switched to Jeanu.
I was seated across from an 86 year old African American woman and her grand-daughter. She was taking it all in, and told me she would believe it when she saw it. And when that moment came- I will never forget the look of emotion in her eyes. And I will never forget the way I felt- like a hope and connection to my country had been restored- one I never knew I could even feel.
With huge large screen TV’s ready- when the polls closed we waited like everyone for the election to be called. And when it was called for Obama the room filled with cheers and shouts of joy- and many many tears. Some people collapsed and fell to the floor sobbing. It was such a powerful moment. As we waited for President Obama to speak, the music started and we began to dance. As we danced, the most joyful and large scale electric slide started- and hundreds of us danced in time together. It was so much fun!
After President Obama spoke, everyone was hugging and crying- jumping up and down with total joy. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, age 73 and a veteran Civil Rights and Anti-Apartheid activist spoke- he said he never thought he would live to see this day. Not only had we broken barriers tonight he said, but we have changed the way politics as usual go in our country. Everything is different now- look at the electoral map! He said we have elected someone who speaks to everyone’s heart-who wants to talk with other nations, a President who can heal the country. Our beloved Congresswoman Barbara Lee was there as well.
Then the dancing continued- and continued- we danced for hours. We had the Bezerkley hippie spin dancers, African dance, old school, Bhangra, break dancing- you name it. When it was time to leave- we went out into downtown Oakland onto Broadway only to discover that the streets were filled with more people dancing! It was a huge party in the streets. Just up the street a crowd of more than 300 had gathered at Grand and Broadway in front of Luka’s Tap Room- and a wonderful drumming circle had begun. The Oakland PD for the first time did something right and let us celebrate for hours- they even shut the streets off to traffic. the drumming circle was so profound- men and women from all parts of the world were there- it felt like NYC- drumming furiously and everyone was dancing in the street. We had teenagers, middle aged, older folks- all dancing- and from every walk of life-there were several homeless who joined the dancing circle-truly, it felt like a movie- it was a very special night in Oakland. We chanted Obama’s name for hours until we lost our voices. I have lived in Oakland for 8 years now- and have never seen so many people in the street, inhabiting their own city, and bringing it to life at night.
I’m sure many of you were also at amazing public celebrations- and also at home at quiet ones- I would love to hear about them. Was anyone in Chicago? NYC? Howard and Caroline- what was it like in Chile? Simone- how about in India? I think it’s important to hold on to these moments of joy- to stay in touch with these experiences so that they can fuel us for the work ahead. And to bask in the joy for the sake of joy itself. Please share how your night went!
Sending all my love,