Lo­cals moved by spirit of con­ven­tion

The Covington News - - Front page - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Shar­ron Brown-Wil­lis didn’t get to at­tend Barack Obama’s his­toric nom­i­na­tion as the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date for Demo­cratic Party in 2008, but she was thrilled to set­tle for at­tend­ing the sec­ond time around.

Brown-Wil­lis, a New­ton County res­i­dent, at­tended the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Char­lotte, N.C., as an at-large del­e­gate from Ge­or­gia, and came back im­pas­sioned for the party and women’s rights.

“It was amaz­ing…it was def­i­nitely a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence meet­ing peo­ple from all walks of life, with dif­fer­ent reli­gions and be­liefs and ev­ery­body com­ing to­gether for one pur­pose,” Brown-Wil­lis said. “I grew up with par­ents who were in­volved in the civil rights move­ment, and I used to hear sto­ries and read about

peo­ple who came to­gether

for one pur­pose and pas­sion: to ob­tain a goal much greater than them­selves. That will af­fect our whole world, coun­try and na­tion.

“I never re­ally ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing like that un­til this week­end and my life will never be the same. I know I’m more pas­sion­ate now,” she said.

Brown-Wil­lis, whose own fam­ily is a melt­ing pot of cul­tures, in­clud­ing African-Amer­i­can and Apache In­dian, was brought to tears by the unity she saw at this year’s con­ven­tion.

“A cou­ple from Ger­many sat next to me…and we held our hands to­gether and cried to­gether. For us to do that, is some­thing we never could have done many, many years ago,” Brown-Wil­lis said. “For us to be there hold­ing each other hands, and this lady is shed­ding tears, and I am, and we’re hug­ging each other and we’re there for the same rea­son and we just want to see change.”

The con­ven­tion was a whirl­wind of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing Demo­cratic cau­cus meet­ings, con­fer­ences, the con­ven­tion speeches and pro-life ral­lies and protests. Brown-Wil­lis said she got an av­er­age of two hours of sleep a day, but it was worth it.

“In all of that, I found a new pas­sion. I am a Demo­crat and proud to be one but I also just love peo­ple, and I learned so much about want­ing to em­power women about what their choices are be­fore they make their de­ci­sion (in the elec­tion), be­cause the GOP poses some things that would rob women of their choices,” Brown-Wil­lis said.

Be­sides her strength­ened pas­sion for women’s rights, Brown-Wil­lis also en­joyed spend­ing time with her fel­low Ge­or­gia del­e­gates and lis­ten­ing to U.S. Rep John Lewis, who re­called his own strug­gles dur­ing the civil rights move­ment.

While she was in Char­lotte — along with a few other lo­cals who drove up for Pres­i­dent Obama’s speech and Sher­iff Ezell Brown and his deputies who were on con­ven­tion duty — 142 Democrats turned out for a lo­cal view­ing party.

Lo­cal Chair­woman Sarah Todd said mem­bers were moved by First Lady Michelle Obama’s rein­tro­duc­ing the na­tion to the man she loves, mes­mer­ized by for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s sup­port of Obama and condem- na­tion of Repub­li­can poli­cies and re-en­er­gized by the pres­i­dent’s over­view of all that he has ac­com­plished. How­ever, it was the story of ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans that touched them most.

“We lis­tened as for­mer life­long Repub­li­can, Doug Sterner, an Ohio fire­fighter, talked about how to­day’s Re- pub­li­can Party has left him and all work­ing peo­ple out in the cold. We were moved to tears af­ter hear­ing mom Stacey Lihn ex­plain how Oba­macare saved her not quite 2-year-old daugh­ter’s life by re­mov­ing the life­time cap on health­care costs. Her daugh­ter Zoe is await­ing her third open heart surgery. We lis­tened over and over again to ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans tell us in no un­cer­tain terms what four more years will mean for mov­ing this coun­try for­ward and how a Rom­ney pres­i­dency will take us back to what got us in trou­ble in the first place,” Todd said in an email. We were, as we al­ways are, proud to be Democrats.”

Photo sub­mit­ted by Sarah Todd

Nearly 150 area Democrats turned out to the Lo­tus Bistro in the Salem Gate Shop­ping Cen­ter Thurs­day to watch Pres­i­dent Barack Obama speak to the na­tion.

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