Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I attended an academic seminar last week and am doing a fieldwork placement during the convention. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy!
I will never forget yesterday. I had the opportunity to be on stage with about ten other people with disabilities for the gavel in, the Pledge of Allegiance, national anthem, and Senator Harkin’s remarks to the audience about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in honor of its 26th anniversary. Senator Harkin has a Deaf brother and always has been a prominent advocate for the disability community. It is too bad that he is not in the Senate anymore! He even taught the audience how to sign “America” and pointed out how fitting that sign is, describing how “we all are brought together and no one is left out in this circle of life that is America”. He went on to talk about how that is the America that Hillary Clinton and all of us want, where it does not matter whether or not one is disabled and everyone is still “respected, valued, and treated with dignity”.
It was very inspiring to stand on the stage at that time, watch thousands of people listen to Harkin about how important it is for our party to value people with disabilities, and see many in the audience applauding in agreement. I am very proud to belong to a party that strongly advocates for disability rights. I knew some other people who were on stage with me from our previous work for the Disability Action for Hillary. One individual even recognized me from Deaf People for Hillary Facebook page! After last night, I am sure all of us are more certain than ever that we are in the right party.
The people who made that ADA celebration happen and arranged for me to be on the stage gave me a floor pass, so I could be on stage during that moment. Afterwards, they told me I could stay on the floor for the rest of evening. I was free to walk around and sit wherever I want. I learned that individuals from Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia state delegations need sign language interpreters, so I assume they are Deaf delegates. I do not know much more though and plan to find out. It will be fantastic to meet and talk with Deaf delegates about their experiences later!
Last night’s speech line-up was terrific and featured people like Elizabeth Banks, Donna Brazile, Cecile Richards, Eric Holder Jr., Madeleine Albright, Meryl Streep, and Lena Dunham. The most emotional part of the night was when Mothers of the Movement came on stage and spoke about how important it is for us to elect Hillary. One mother said Hillary is not afraid to say black lives matter and another said she did not ask to be here or to have her child killed. It was also powerful when all Democratic Congresswomen took the stage and one by one, gave reasons why they are with Hillary. Of course, I cannot forget Bill Clinton. He delivered an eloquent, long speech about Hillary and started it with “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl”. Bill shared personal stories and emphasized how she is “the best darn change-maker” that he has ever known. At one point, he commented on how she has never been satisfied with the status quo and always wants to move forward. His speech was very effective in laying out Hillary’s dedication to public service.
I was there on the floor earlier when the roll call took place and Bernie Sanders moved to suspend the procedural rules and select Hillary as the Democratic nominee. She became the first female nominee of any major party in the United States. That is going down in history books. When it happened, I just stood there and had to take a moment to allow it to sink in. After 240 years of men winning major party nominations and holding the most powerful office in our country, we finally have a female nominee. It is time for us to take another step forward and make her the first female president this November!
Just before the convention was closed for the night, they showed a portrait of every single president of the United States. All 44 of them are males and showing all of their portraits took a while. It forced everyone in the audience to really think how we have never had any female president before. All the male presidents then were put together in a mosaic before it was cracked like a glass ceiling to show a live video of Hillary from New York. That sent chills up my spine. Hillary looked like a badass boss when she showed up. I simply love how she acted entitled to win this nomination after all these years, just like men did when they won theirs.
I will tell my children stories about this day and how I was there when Hillary made history! Some feel like she should not focus so much on this historic moment, but I think dedicating a portion of this night to its historic significance is worthwhile, especially as the rest of the night already was about highlighting other parts of Hillary like her commitment to public service.