Howard Students Witness Historic Moment PDF Print E-mail
By Jessica Lewis -- Black College Wire   

"Remember where you were and what you were doing on this historic moment, on this historic night. You were at Howard University," said Julian Lewis, freshman political science major.

Hundreds of students gathered together on the historical day of Aug. 28, 2008, to hear Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama deliver a message of hope to a generation that was not yet alive to hear the "I Have a Dream" speech delivered just 45 years earlier by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Barack Obama, Joe Biden
Obama delivered the speech to 85,000 Americans at Invesco Field in Denver, Colo.

At Howard, many more Americans absorbed his grassroots message of change with a loud roar of "Yes We Can."

Students sported shirts bearing the slogan and many more stood holding hand-made signs bearing Obama's name. Big or small, old or young, black or white, all students joined together in a harmonious melody of change as they yelled out "Obama!"

In the diverse audience was Republican student James Robison, who said, "Although I am affiliated with the Republican Party, I am voting for Obama because the last four years have hurt my pocket and we can't afford another four."

He added, "I am here tonight because it is important to hear the next President of the United States speak."

Like Robinson, many attendees expressed their personal reasons for supporting the Democratic nominee.

"We were brought here by force, and now, now we're on top," said freshman sociology major Debra Samuels. "We will be in control of the United States. I am voting for him because he is African American."

Sophomore accounting major Jamil Favor said, "[Obama] is paving the way for my future. And honestly - I hate Republicans - and he is real." Favor demonstrated the picture of Obama and wife, Michelle, dabbing hands to portray Obama's sincerity.

In a speech delivered before the students gathered, junior international business major, Jumaane Ponder, said, "There is a danger that we will see this as a defining moment in our history. When Barack Obama speaks about change tonight, Barack Obama is speaking about you. We cannot see this moment as an isolated moment in our history."

Audience members were brought to their feet in a moment to honor the ones who came before Obama.

This event marks the first time in history that a black person will be nominated on a major-party ticket, and, it marked the first time in Howard's history that students gathered to this large of a degree to watch the Democratic National Convention.

At the event the majority of the audience was able to fit into Cramton's lower level.

The combined effort of Howard University Student Association (HUSA), Ubiquity, Inc., Director of Cramton Steven Johnson, and Denise Thompson, manager of Cramton, made this event possible.

"I feel , as a community, we need to experience history together," said Nicholas Owen, HUSA President. "This has never been done before."

The evening did not go off without a hitch. But despite the technical difficulties, students danced and joined together as the speakers played T.I. and Soulja Boy.

Before it all, Owen revealed plans to go downtown on Jan. 20, 2009, to hear Obama's inaugural speech.

"We have work that still needs to be done," said Melech Thomas, junior speech and applied communications major. "Don't live in a strange land," Thomas added. "I feel it in my spirit that a change is about to come. I have a dream today, but I got to tell you something...that dream has come today. All we have to do is stand for something, stand for justice."

Thomas' own dream speech caused a standing ovation by almost every member of the audience that night as he too invoked a message of change.

Jessica Lewis writes for The Hilltop, the Howard University student newspaper, which originally published a version of this article.


Posted Aug. 29, 2008
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