today in black history

July 18, 2023

Bishop Stephen G. Spottswood of the African American Episcopal Zion Church, a fierce civil rights advocate, was born in 1897 in Boston.

Obama Rocks CBCF Gala

POSTED: September 28, 2008, 12:00 am

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The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) held its black tie gala last night at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the culmination of the foundation’s Annual Legislative Caucus. The event was marked by the presence of Democratic Party presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and its first member to secure the presidential nomination of a major party. The Illinois senator was one of five honorees selected to receive the CBCF’s Phoenix Award, joining New York Governor David A. Paterson, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, California Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass and actress and humanitarian Keri Washington.

The ballroom of the Convention Center was filled with a “Who’s Who” of Black America, from radio personality Tom Joyner and Rev. Jesse Jackson  to author and Professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and entertainment lawyer Londell McMillan. The hosts for the evening’s festivities were Hollywood couple, actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete. The two kicked the evening off by warming up the audience with light banter as the large crowd made its way into the cavernous ballroom.

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, chairwoman of the 43 member Congressional Black Caucus, welcomed the guests and led the audience in a moment of silence for members of the CBC who are died this year – Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Rep. Julia Carson, Rep. Juanita Millender McDonald, and past members Hon. Parren J. Mitchell and Hon.  Augustus Hawkins who also passed over the course of the last year.

The highlight of the evening was the appearance by Senator Barack Obama, who was given the Harold Washington Award. He was introduced by Democratic consultant Donna Brazile and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Conyers punctuated his introduction, exclaiming, “Thirty-eight days left and then we will have that great moment. It’s the right person, right time, with us.” As the crowd roared its approval, the Detroit lawmaker added, ‘What are you going to do for the next 38 days and nights until we get the victory.”

With the audience whipped to frenzy, the band struck up the song that has become the official song of the Obama campaign – Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” – as Senator Obama took the stage to deafening applause that shook the rafters of the ballroom. After acknowledging the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, he referred to his wife Michelle who he said, “Has put up with me all these years.” He also reflected upon the late Chicago mayor Harold Washington for whom the award Obama received is named, saying “on this night, the spirit of Harold Washington lives on.” Senator Obama then went on to deliver a fiery speech on the theme “a wrong we need to make right.”

“Last night we had a debate,” remarked Senator Obama, “on issue after issue, from taxes to warfare to the war in Iraq. You heard John McCain argue for more of the same.” Obama continued, “Through 90 minutes of debate John McCain had a lot to say about me. He had nothing to say about you. John McCain doesn’t get it. I get it. You get it. The American people get it.”

In tone and demeanor, it was apparent Senator Obama felt like he was “home.” After a week of intense negotiation over President Bush’s $700 billion mortgage bailout, Obama took direct aim at the President’s plan. “It is unacceptable for the American people to hand this administration, or any administration, a $700 billion blank check,” said the candidate.

He also took a swipe at Senator McCain’s adoption of “change” as a campaign theme. “Let me tell you what change is,” began the Senator, “Change isn’t grabbing one of my signs or stealing one of my lines.” Hardly able to contain his laughter, Obama joked “he’s taking my stuff!” as laughter rippled through the audience.

Closing out his speech to thunderous applause, Senator Obama reminded the audience of the challenges that lay ahead in the days leading up to the November 4 election. “It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

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