Obama Town Hall - Life Altering Experience

(04/02/2008)

A life altering experience is the only way to characterize my attendance at the Barack Obama Town Hall meeting in Charlotte on March 19, 2008.

The media's attention of Senator Obama is manic; one minute they are singing his praises and the next questioning the motives of his friends, pastor, and supporters. Supporters like my husband and me who were 6th and 7th in line to enter the Town Hall Meeting. The time was spent with TV cameras in our faces and microphones up our noses.

We shared the time with some truly amazing people. Within just a few hours we made new friends and connections with folks that we would have missed in our everyday routine. We took care of each others' needs, tended to everyone's children and worked like a family. We basically became a microcosm of the America that Barack is striving to create.

We explored multiple cultures and concerns. We were touched by the mother of three who is struggling to make ends meet. I held her youngest child during the event while she told us about calling off work and took her three children out of school and nursery care so they could witness history. It was an experience that brought me to tears.

It was a day when we all talked openly about prejudices that everyone, whether they admit it or not, has experienced within themselves. I'm not talking about bigotry or racism but a thought or perception of people we don't know. It was during that afternoon I realized Senator Obama is the catalyst of change not the focus. He is the leader we need at this moment in history to achieve a balance in our society. No one can deny this is a transforming moment for our country.

I can only assume this is the way people felt when they were in the presence of Jack or Bobby Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was overcome with emotion when I was lucky enough to speak to Senator Obama and shake his hand. Not the emotion of being in the presence of celebrity but the presence of greatness.

My newly autographed copy of The Audacity of Hope will be passed down to my children and grandchildren with great value not because Senator Obama is the first African American who, I believe, will be President but because he is a man who has brought our potential greatness to light.

Shannon Smith
Southern Pines, NC