Home > Uncategorized > Interning in Politics: a Reflection on Michelle Obama in Greensboro, NC

Interning in Politics: a Reflection on Michelle Obama in Greensboro, NC

In addition to being a full time student, I’ve recently been working as an intern for the Barack Obama Campaign. I’m the canvassing coordinator, and my main job is to go around Elon’s campus, registering as many students to vote as possible.

The mantra of the Obama campaign set the stage at the Women in Greensboro event.

The mantra of the Obama campaign set the stage at the Women in Greensboro event.

On Thursday morning, as I was preparing for class at about 11:30, my contact at the Democratic Headquarters of Alamance County called me to let me know that she had an extra ticket to see Michelle Obama speaking for a Women for Obama event in Greensboro that afternoon. I said yes right away, and an hour later was on my way to Greensboro with a friend from Elon’s College Democrats and three other volunteers from the campaign.

We drove up to the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, where the line to get inside filed down the street. The crowd inside was electric with energy before the first speaker appeared, starting chants of “Yes we can” and “Obama.” Though this was a Women for Obama event, the audience was diverse on every level, gender, age, and race. The woman sitting next to me told me she was 84 years old, and called herself a “grandmother for Obama.”

Kay Hagan, the NC democratic candidate for US Senate spoke first, bringing attention to all of the women candidates in NC races this election. She also spoke of her daughters, citing them as a major part why she is involved in politics, and stressed the importance of the women’s vote in the current election, a theme of the whole event. Hagan’s speech felt like unification between the presidential campaign and campaigns at a state level. As a student who will be voting for the first time in the election this November, it signified an all-inclusive feeling to the Democratic party.

Maya Angelou introduces Michelle Obama.

Maya Angelou introduces Michelle Obama.

That feeling continued when Maya Angelou stepped onto the stage to introduce Mrs. Obama. Angelou was a notable supporter of Hillary Clinton during the primaries and while she praised the accomplishments of Senator Clinton, she also explained her refocused support on Senator Obama. Angelou praised Mrs. Obama as a working mother and cited Oprah referring to her as “the real thing.”

Mrs. Obama’s entrance was met with a long standing ovation and the return of the “Yes we can” chanting. She greeted the crowd with a smile and joked “Let’s get out there and win this thing, already!” She reiterated the importance of women to this election, saying women needed a strong advocate in the White House and detailing why her husband was that advocate. She spoke eloquently and amiably.

Michelle Obama address the crowd in the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro.

Michelle Obama address the crowd in the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro.

Though I’ve been working with student led groups in voter registration and voter awareness from the beginning of the primaries, this was my first time at an Obama campaign stop. Throughout this lengthy campaign season, the words “hope” and “change” have been tossed around so many times it might be easy to forget they have meaning, to dismiss them as persuasive rhetorical tools to sway the optimistic and the gullible. But to the people gathered in the Carolina Theatre last Thursday, these words clearly still struck cords. And party unification was a pulsing presence as the crowd- the 19 year old first time voter, the grandmother, the working mothers and fathers, the myriad of ethnicities represented- joined in a single chant:

Yes we can.

A women in the crowd holds up an Obama vote ad in the midst of the cheers and chants.

A women in the crowd holds up an Obama vote ad in the midst of the cheers and chants.

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