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Kenyan girl recalls what it was like to volunteer for President Barack Obama's grass root campaign in 2008.
As a Kenyan Citizen living in the US at that time, I was definitely very excited about Barack Obama running for president of the US and I can imagine that you were too. The whole world was excited and fired up for him in 2008 and his critics were so fired up too putting up bad ads on TV about him that led nowhere.
Barack Obama campaign was built on grassroots with the slogan "Yes we can" and any human being was welcomed to it regardless of your age, race, gender, Nationality, creed. They had designated meeting areas and if you came there was always something to do for everybody. You would never get turned away. There was door to door campaign, making phone calls, helping out at fundraising events and there was an ongoing positive energy around anywhere around Obama campaign. Everybody was just so happy! Here I will discuss 5 major events that I attended.
Los Angeles Convention Center fundraising with Obama himself
This was a very major fundraising event that happened in downtown Los Angeles. When I arrived, I was assigned to a table by the door to sign in all the happy guests who were coming in. I was with a few other young women and we met and greeted the guests and asked them to sign a book at the door. Obama didn't come in through that lol. Everybody who came in through the door was just so happy and excited to be there. When you think Obama campaign, think of abnormal over the top excitement, happiness and positive energy. How I wish the world was like that all the time.
When all the guests had been signed in, all the volunteers were invited to walk in and listen to Obama's speech. I remember standing so close to where he was going to speak, almost like I could touch him but soon all the volunteers were called upon to go upstairs and sit with the VIP's. I went upstairs before he could show up. Everybody who had never seen Mr. Obama had their eyes on the door and we were all very curious and eager for him to walk in.
What happened next was the least expected thing. A very young handsome youthful man full of energy almost bounced into the room giving everybody a high-five, hugging, greeting, smiling big and so happy!. It was a different situation from what you would expect from a guest of honor. Obama was so friendly, so tall and so human. Many people seemed shocked like what? he is just a normal guy! He is so nice!
He then got inside the Circle and spoke to the small group of fundraisers in a very personal way, greeting them, giving them eye contact and walking around the circle to acknowledge everybody. I was so focused on Obama but there seemed to be so many people taking photos on my direction. Then a woman touched me. When I looked, she said "Oh girl! do you know who you standing next to? That is a huge Celebrity!" I was standing shoulder to shoulder with one of the world's greatest hip hop stars! Yolanda Adams! So many Celebrities and nearly all black American Celebrities were involved in Barack Obama campaign. After the event, I got a lot of time to talk with the famous singer Seal.
Campaign with Michelle Obama at in UCLA
UCLA for those who don't know stands for University of California, Los Angeles. When I went to the UCLA campaign I wore a full-blown African attire? (a very bright Kitenge)and that made me stand out of the crowd. The event at UCLA included speeches combined with Music from the famous Black American Legend Stevie Wonder. ( for those who don't know this, he is blind) There was a speech from Carolyn Kennedy, a very tall slender white woman from the Kennedy family, the one and only Oprah Winfrey who in real life is shorter than I imagined and the last speech came from Michelle Obama who is quite tall, very beautiful and in an amazing shape. After the speeches, Oprah Winfrey signed a few Autographs but quickly ran away to leave the floor for Michelle Obama. Mrs Obama was all smiles and waving at the audience and giving direct eye contact with people. I don't want to sound delusional like Olivia from Ben Higgins Bachelor but Michelle Obama did point at me and waved with a big smile. I'm sure he was pointing at Africa because I wore a very obvious African attire.
Campaign with Vice President Joe Biden in West Hollywood, California.
I don't know if you guys are aware that Joe Biden was also running for president in 2008 and they had some very nasty things to say about each other before Barack Obama became nominee. I read that even after Joe Biden dropped out of the race, he still refused to support Barack Obama until his son Beau Biden came from the war to talk with him and convince him that Obama was a good man. Unfortunately, Beau Biden died last year, may his soul rest in peace.
The event in West Hollywood with Joe Biden and his son was also a fundraiser. I remember arriving a bit later but the normal campaign guys were getting familiar with me so I was welcomed straight to the dinner table where people were eating and drinking wine. This was the first time and the only time that I have ever drunk red wine or any other form of alcohol in my entire life. Just one glass got me so drunk and too excited, laughing too hard so I swore never to drink again. I love being in charge of my head.
Campaign with Neyo the singer at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Neyo also held a special concert for fundraising to help with President Obama campaign. I attended as a volunteer but there wasn't really much to do except watch. I just can tell you that Neyo is so handsome in person and he dresses very sharp. Can a girl say that Neyo is so sexy? He wore a black suit and the hats that he wears and he sang and danced. I bet he raised a lot of funds.
I ALSO ATTENDED MANY VIEWING EVENTS WHERE VOLUNTEERS WOULD GATHER TOGETHER AND WATCH THE PROGRESS OF ELECTION. WHENEVER OBAMA GOT ATTACKED IN AD ADD, WE WOULD ALL BOO AND TAKE IT SO PERSONALLY LIKE IT WAS US GETTING RIPPED.
On election day, I volunteered for over 16 hours.
I was placed at a call Center at KTLA TV station on sunset blvd with other volunteers. We had very long lists of all registered democratic voters in the whole of the United States. We had their full names, addresses and phone numbers. We had to call these people one by one and put a mark on anybody who did not answer the phone to be called again. I don't even remember taking a lunch break or feeling hungry for that matter. There were so many of us at the call Centre calling. "Hello, my name is Mercy and I'm calling you from Barack Obama campaign. am I speaking with Marsha Johnstone? Mom have you voted for Mr. Obama yet?" Most of the people we were calling were very excited in their voices, some were sleeping but in general they were very nice. "thanks for calling honey, we are heading there now." Most people were thanking us for volunteering. "Oh yes, thanks for reminding me, I'll make sure to go and vote." "Yes I already voted for him, thank you so much" I don't remember getting insulted or talking to a rude person on that day.
Obama declared President.
As the evening approached, we kept making phone calls until finally the polls closed. Then all volunteers were transported to Century City in Los Angeles to go and watch the results. I am convinced that the whole world was watching. The live television coverage showed the results in different States and everybody was crossing their fingers. And finally they said; " The last votes are in, Fox news predicts that Barack Hussein Obama is the next president of the United States. The hall went crazy!
There were loud screams, whistles, loud crying,screaming, throwing things, jumping up and down and live TV stations taking pictures of everything and everybody. They showed Kenya dancing with the leaves and shouting, they showed all Countries in the world celebrating. I remember being interviewed by a TV station about why I was crying and I said those were happy tears, that I'm from Kenya and I'm just so happy that Barack Obama has won.
Then, the TV switched back to the sad senator John Maccain campaign and then to him. Amazingly, he congratulated President Barack Obama and said that America had spoken and then urged America to Unite behind the new president.
Then the Obama family was up next on TV. Obama, his beautiful wife Michelle and two adorable kids Malia and Sasha and off course you just know that he gave the most powerful speech in the world. I can't even dare get into that. You can watch all these on You tube.
PS: I'm not writing these stories to brag about anything or seek attention from anybody. They were just amazing experiences and I'm proud that I can say I volunteered and campaigned for the first black President of the United States whose father was from Kenya. I write these stories so that one day when I die, those left can know who I was and what I did in my life time. These are just my personal life experiences and my opinions.
Think about this
If you want to be the next president, you can't look down on anybody! that is how Obama won, that is how you can win, that is why Donald Trump will never win.