Around US, Americans unite at Obama watch parties

August 29, 2008 12:00 am

, BETHESDA, August 29 – Thousands of miles from the stadium in Denver where Barack Obama was giving a rousing speech to close the Democratic convention, 42-year-old Kenya Dixon punched the air and shouted "kick ’em hard" at a wide-screen television.

Dixon, a single mother who works two jobs, was among some 100 people who had packed into the common room of an apartment block in this Washington suburb for one of 2,000 "Yes We Can" parties organized around the United States by members of the grassroots political advocacy group

When Obama pledged to "cut taxes for 95 percent of all working families," Dixon said a heartfelt "Thank you, thank you."

When Obama recalled the agony of his mother as she lay dying of cancer and pledged to end discrimination by health care providers against those who need it most, an elderly man in the room said quietly, "I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but God bless you for trying."

When the Democratic contender for the White House said he would pore over the federal budget and halt spending on programs that weren’t working, someone at the party shouted: "No more public golf courses."

Cheers, ovations, laughter, and whoops of approval from young, old, black, white, Asian and Hispanic punctuated the speech.

One of the loudest cheers came when Obama chastised McCain for "not even following Osama bin Laden to the cave where he lives" even though the Republican candidate has vowed to pursue the Al-Qaeda chief "to the gates of hell."

"He’s throwing punches instead of taking them," 53-year-old Thomas Cannady told AFP.

"He talked about what he believes in, about me and you and about how things only happen if the people do something, not big corporations and government," said the Vietnam-era veteran after the speech had ended and the applause in Denver and the room in Bethesda had died down.

"America has changed, and I’m so pleased and proud," said Cannady, an African-American who grew up in the South and, for the first 14 years of his life, "went to all black schools, movies on Saturday in all-black cinemas, and shopped only in certain stores because if you went to the other ones, it could end up not-so-nice."

Parties were held in towns and cities from San Francisco to New York, where a crowd gathered in Times Square to watch the speech and residents opened their homes, business owners their restaurants, to host events.

"I was part of the civil rights movement, and I’m happy to be around to see this happen," 67-year-old Marilyn Mosley told the New York Times.

"There are some of us — people of color and others — who worked for change during the civil rights movement, during the riots and the sit-ins," she said

"For me, this is a special moment and we need to stop and take stock of it."


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