The New South Arises: Obama Speaks at The College of Charleston

The New South Arises: Obama Speaks at The College of Charleston

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for the White House.   Quoting a Black American hero in endorsing the man who hopes to be the first African-American president, Kerry told a cheering crowd, “Martin Luther King said the time is always right to do what is right.”  Now is the time, Kerry said, to declare “that Barack Obama can be, will be and should be the next president of the United States.”

Kerry’s appearance provided a surprise twist to Obama’s packed rally at the College of Charleston, which drew thousands of people, making it the largest political rally in Charleston in recent memory.   Hundreds also stood outside along the iron fence.

Obama thanked Kerry, describing him as “a man of courage, a man of conviction and a man whose life story gives him an understanding of the kind of change we need right now.”

Obama spoke about the need to look out for seniors who have lost their pensions while company presidents pocketed a bonus and for parents who are competing with their teen-agers for $7-an-hour jobs at Wal-Mart.   He said he would work to end the Iraq war responsibly, adding, “Our troops have done a magnificent job.  They have been brilliant.”

We want everybody on the change bandwagon.   To me, change isn’t just the rhetoric of the campaign, it’s been the cause of my life,” he said.  “We’ve been told by a chorus of cynics who will only grow more louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come.   They say, ‘Oh, Barack may get people excited but he’s not been in Washington long enough.  We need to season and stew him, boil all the hope out of him.”

He said: “In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.   Generations of Americans have responded by a simple creed that sums up the spirit of people: Yes we can.   It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom through the darkest of nights.    Yes we can.”

Obama Speaks at The College of Charleston

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Yes We Can: You Spoke for the Hopes We Hold in Common

Yes We Can: You Spoke for the Hopes We Hold in Common

The Illinois senator gave yet another stirring speech, his knack for which is far superior to the rest of the field on either side.  “A few weeks ago, no one imagined that we’d have accomplished what we did here tonight,” Senator Obama claimed, right after congratulating winner Sen. Clinton.   “For most of this campaign, we were far behind, and we always knew our climb would be steep.  But in record numbers, you came out and spoke up for change.  And with your voices and your votes, you made it clear that at this moment, in this election, there is something happening in America.

Obama reiterated this election season’s common theme of “Change,” but he did it with an inspired finesse and a commanding cadence that recalled Dr. Martin Luther King’s gifted oratory: “There is something happening when people vote not just for the party they belong to but the hopes they hold in common, that whether we are rich or poor; Black or White; Latino or Asian; whether we hail from Iowa or New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, we are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction.”


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