The Chicago delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Denver will be the proudest and most eager group there. Start the monumental proceedings! These Democrats will travel to the Mile High City with anticipation and certainty that they will leave Denver with fellow Chicagoan, Barack Obama, nominated and ready to be elected President of the United States. The trek to Denver includes a mad scramble for limited hotel space inside the city of Denver. While delegates to the convention have been given priority for hotel space inside the city, many observers and reporters will be forced to stay in suburban hotels 20 to 30 miles away from the city center.
The Chicago delegation will, however, occupy the Hyatt and Marriott hotels, which are in the city center in close proximity to the convention hall, the Pepsi Center. This delegation will be closely watched and monitored for any indications of moves that Obama makes at the convention. The Illinois superdelegates have been quite close to Obama since he decided to run for president. Illinois State Senate President and superdelegate Emil Jones mentored Obama when he first arrived in the city and worked as a community organizer in his district. Jones was the person Obama turned to for advice and counsel before deciding to run for the U.S. Senate and again when he decided to run for president.
Before announcing his candidacy for president, it is clear that Obama had to get the blessings of superdelegates Mayor Richard Daley and fellow Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin. The Congressmen who represent the city were also consulted and gave their approval for the candidacy: Danny Davis, Bobby Rush, Luis Gutierrez, Jesse Jackson Jr., Dan Lipinski and Jan Schakowsky have provided crucial advice and support to the Senator. They announced their support early despite the tremendous pressure from the Hillary camp to support Hillary Clinton since she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have been closely related to Chicago's political establishment and the Illinois Democratic Party.
Other Chicago superdelegates that have been close to Obama include Rev. Willie Barrow, a party official and former Chairman of the Board of Rainbow-Push. She said, "I support Barack because he exemplifies a real man. He is a God-loving Christian, husband and father. Universal healthcare, employment and education are the primary issues for me and the people that we serve. Our children are not going to school and not graduating. The states are closing schools and opening jails. I am convinced that an Obama presidency will make a real difference and bring solutions to these problems. It is for these reasons that I enthusiastically support Senator Obama."
Illinois House Speaker and Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan will lead the delegation in the traditional cheers for the Senator during the nominating roll call. Other state representatives and officials who are superdelegates from Chicago include State Rep. Constance Howard and State Comptroller Dan Hynes. This is an enthusiastic group of delegates who are convinced that they have a winner.
But What About Jesse?
One of the few questions left to be answered is the convention role of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He has been a major speaker at Democratic National Conventions since 1984 and has played a major role as strategist and the national voter registration motivator. In fact, Jackson set the record in 1986 for motivating more people to register to vote than any single person. His record-setting efforts in 1986 helped change the control of the Senate from Republican to Democrat. Additionally, his 1984 presidential campaign and the follow up voter registration crusade in 1986 put the issue of South African Apartheid and African majority rule on the front burner and eventually led to the abolition of Apartheid and rule by the African National Congress.
Given Rev. Jackson's major contributions to the progressive movement within the Democratic Party and the acceptance of Blacks as full partners at the DNC's decision-making table, it is hard to believe that he will not be given a significant speaking role at the convention.
After Jackson's Fox News gaffe, where he made some disparaging remarks about Obama and his lack of an articulated urban policy, many people across the nation have asked whether or not he will be allowed to speak at the convention. It is clear that he is contrite and has apologized for the remarks. Politically and personally, the Billary team did more to hurt Obama in the primaries than anyone. Yet both of them have been given major speaking roles in the convention. Thus many ask, why not Rev. Jackson? Whether one likes or dislikes Jackson, it is undeniable that he has made some major contributions to the progression of civil rights. In reality, it was the efforts of Rev. Jackson and the Civil Rights Movement that has allowed for the emergence of Obama as a serious presidential candidate.
"In this 2008 Democratic Presidential campaign, it is about winning. And in order to win, we need the most potent weapons in our arsenal. Rev. Jackson is the most potent voter registration motivator that is in the Democratic Party, and with 5 to 8 million unregistered Blacks who are primarily in the south where the party is most vulnerable, the party must use his services," said author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson. Further, he says "this is not a referendum on the Civil Rights Movement or Rev. Jackson; it is a matter of employing those persons who are most effective in helping to win the election."
Thousands of Jackson supporters throughout the country have launched a national campaign to demand that Rev. Jackson be given a speaking role at the convention. These supporters firmly believe that just as the Obama campaign made amends with the Billary team for the sake of party unity, the same needs to be done with Jackson. Again, for the sake of a unified Democratic Party winning effort.
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