THE BLOG

My Evening With Harriet Christian

06/09/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It was when the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee made its ruling on Michigan that Harriet Christian came into my life.

From a few rows behind me, her piercing, wizened, New York voice rang out through the awkward silences in the auditorium of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

I wish now I could remember each and everything she said. All I remember is that I was glad she was saying it. The DNC had just committed a crime, and I was happy that there was someone unashamed to reveal her fury to all those present.

As we all exited the ballroom -- many of us in disgust -- I saw the cameras swarm in on our Harriet. I decided to stay and watch her in her glory.

In fact, I have a confession to make. It was I who encouraged Harriet to stay and to face the cameras. Each time she wanted to storm from the lobby in a fiery exeunt, it was I who stopped her, consoled her, turned her around, and told her "Your anger needs to be heard, friend. Don't stop."

Did I think that she could have been more coherent at first? Yes, I did. Did I feel that she was flirting with the edge of reason? Yes, I did. Would I have had her change a thing? No, I wouldn't.

I would like to add that I don't condone any correlation between the words "black" and "inadequate." It is my belief that she was not *equating* "black" with "inadequate." I believe she was saying that *Obama* is inadequate, and that he is where he is because of affirmative action tactics -- much as Geraldine Ferraro has said, and not unlike Joe Biden's misspeak last year. Again, though, not words I personally would have ever chosen.

Many have criticized Harriet for what is being categorized as her "circus antics." What they call "antics," I call the red blood of Democracy. She was angry. She was angry as I was angry. We were angry as thousands of people were angry. That anger needed a voice that wasn't couched behind cold, intellectually dishonest reason.

The DNC had committed an act of war, and Harriet was firing back with bullets of passion. Was she the best marksman? Perhaps not. But did she reveal to America the depth of frustration that many, many people are feeling right now? That she did.

We all know that -- had she been as calm and collected as so many of you feel she should have been -- that she wouldn't have the nearly 800,000 YouTube hits she now does. Her voice has been heard.

Is that to say that I believe that Harriet was seeking attention? Not at all. As I've said, it was I who kept the fires of encouragement lit beneath her. She has since confessed to me many a time how she now fears that her emotions might be used to hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign. That is the last thing she wants. She simply wanted to cry out against injustice... as so many of us often want to do, but so few of us actually do.

And, for the record: No, she hadn't been drinking. I had the fortune of talking with Harriet well into the night that night. (It was 2am when we finally said "Good night" to one another). While I was knocking back my white Russians and my margaritas, she touched nothing but her Diet Coke. She hasn't touched alcohol since 1985. The only thing she was drunk on that afternoon was indignation.

I hope you will all take the time to get to know Harriet as I have. Harriet is salty. Harriet is a firecracker. Harriet is many things. But Harriet is not a lunatic. She is a life long New Yorker who has worked for civil rights for over forty years. She's a woman full of life and passion. She's a woman who gave her emotions free reign for a few well-televised minutes.

Let those of you who have not exploded in anger cast the first stone... whether or not you were on TV when you did so.