Barack Obama Rallies Austin
As I walked down Bouldin Ave toward Auditorium Shores, a misty rain began falling. However, it did not dampen the air of expectancy I felt in others streaming through my neighborhood. The mood was electric. A crowd of 15,000 to 22,000 gathered chanting, “Obama! Obama!” White, black, Hispanic, and Asian–not just university students, but the gray-haired and young parents holding babies and middle-aged wives.
The band (can someone tell me who they were–I missed the introduction) set the tone by reminding the crowd that they are not Katrina refugees, not refugees at all, but Americans. A young woman introduced the presidential hopeful by recalling her own response to Katrina. She volunteered when Austin opened the Convention Center to 5,000 displaced people from New Orleans. She listened to their stories. She became friends with one young woman and has continued to be her mentor. But, she added, in giving it was she who gained.
And that is the foundation of Barack Obama’s message. He told the crowd, the easiest thing in the world is to be cynical–to sit back and say, that’s just the way it is. I can’t do anything about it. And from that feeling of hopelessness springs the response–I’ll put up my defenses and take care of me and mine.
But, he continued, there is another response to the war, poverty, hunger, and environmental problems that saturate our perception of the world via the news. America was built by people who had the audacity to hope–who dreamed big dreams for the country and pulled together to make them happen. This campaign is not about him, Obama said. It’s about us. Do we dare to dream what can be? And work together to fulfill our dreams?
Toward the end of his speech, the sun struggled to break through the clouds.