Lea – Dawn at Denver – And So it Begins!

 And so it begins!

by Lea Gilmore 

It’s 5:00am here in Denver and after a total of four hours of sleep and some serious adjustment to this altitude where it seems oxygen is in short supply, we are about to begin an amazing journey.  So glad that you are here to join us.

Yesterday (Sunday), after barely making my flight, I boarded an unbelievably full Southwest  Airlines flight to Denver.   Passengers included Maryland delegates, elected officials, media media media, and vacation folks wondering what in the world is happening  (I am not kidding;  a man actually asked me “what’s going on in Denver?”  Whew! Thank goodness he was holidaying from Italy!).  

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I sat next to a senior political reporter from the Boston Globe and a blogger for the Daily KOS and AFL-CIO.  They were chatting about what a “smart move” Obama made choosing Senator Joe Biden for VP and that this just may be the unifying moment, etc.  Rest assured, I will check out the Boston Globe today.

One thing for sure, there is immense excitement in the air.  After a turbulent landing that I can hardly describe, because it is still freaking me out, we arrived in the Denver terminal. I was met by DNC greeters, attendees, and just thrilled Democrats who just wanted to tell us “welcome to history.”  I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore…or maybe White Marsh where I live.

The weather was awesome upon arrival. As soon as I got to the hotel and checked in, fifteen minutes later I was on a WEAA radio program, The David Brown Show, with Marc Steiner discussing what we have to look forward to this week, as well as a bit of political analysis.

Sunday evening, we headed towards the Maryland Delegation’s reception at the Renaissance Hotel, where I will be reporting from each night from 8pm – 11pm on WEAA 88.1. I will be “imbedded” (just always wanted to say that) at the Maryland Watch Party, while Marc reports from the floor of the Pepsi Center where the Maryland Delegation sits and the major speeches take place.

The reception was a ball of kinetic energy. Elected officials, lobbyist, volunteers, media types all laughing and talking and just waiting for the big show to begin.  The folks I spoke with were just full of hope, including the Clinton Delegates, for what is about to happen.

Fifty thousand extra people are in the city of Denver for the convention.  This includes media from all over the world, protesters, delegates, lobbyists, and more.

Denver is only 8% African American, but the vibrant majority black neighborhood of Five Points will be hosting a myriad of events for the week, including a jazz and blues festival, Spoken Word, walking tours, and more. We will bring you reports from here as well.

Protests are also significant this week.  The protesters have set up a place called “Tent State University” (a play on Kent State…), and a larger area called “The Freedom Zone.”   Yesterday, hundreds protest against the war starting at the state capital bldg and ending at the doors of the Pepsi Center. The protest concluded in a mild confrontation with pro-war protesters, but was overwhelmingly peaceful.

 Some protesters are focused on the progress, or lack thereof, in a post-Katrina New Orleans.  They are especially concerned about Government funds that have not yet been received by the actual people that need them for housing and more, while there has been a great land grab by wealthy entities and many have secured lucrative contracts.

There is so much to see and so much to cover!  In addition to our daily coverage of the Maryland Delegation and convention events, CEM will be covering these protests and speaking with those involved.  We will be walking and talking with everyday folks and recording their impressions of the week.

At 3:00pm (5:00pm EST) Howard Dean will raise the gavel and this unprecedented moment in time begins. Tonight’s theme is “One Nation.”  The keynote speech is by Michele Obama.  CEM will be there.
It’s 6:15am – Time to get going!