“There’s no news here.” That’s what I heard from a local television producer while I was hydrating myself at the Starbucks counter in downtown Denver. For me, that’s true. I haven’t watched any TV, radio or even read much news online or on the page since arriving in Denver for the DNC convention. “What do you mean?” I asked him. What this media insider was referring to was the predictability of the DNC convention. “You know who’s going to speak. You know what’s going to happen.”
Oh, I get it. The element of surprise. Conflict. Drama. Shock and awe. That’s what he’s looking for. Maybe that’s why we’re hearing so much news about Bill Clinton raising hell over suggested changes to his speech. Maybe it’s just Bill being Bill for better or worse. Let’s face it, he’s on purpose regarding his legacy after a pretty rough and tumble primary with Hillary. But since there’s “no news here,” let’s count on our old faithful—the Clintons—to give the newsmakers the drama they crave. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, I did log on and saw that the FBI thwarted a possible assassination attempt by white supremacists on Barack Obama’s life.
The DNC or any political convention on this level is the ultimate stage for anyone who has a platform, agenda, gripe, purpose or passion. It’s pure theater in the raw and everyone’s more than willing to be players. Most of my convention script has been dramatically altered.
I’m one of 20,000 volunteers (per someone’s estimate) who came out willing and eager to help out for the cause yet derailed by the bureaucratic and unpredictable DNC machine and their moving parts. Only one member of our group got “credentialed” to work inside the Pepsi Center. This was set up before I got on the plane but I didn’t know what awaited when I touched down. Several of us came to work with media. I was told Monday by our point person who made the arrangements “I can’t make any promises.” So we’re on our own. More on the “credentials” later. But I’ll be moving out of Boulder and heading to Westminster today to volunteer with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. I’m joining three other friends I’ve known for years who came in with the CBC. At the moment, getting back on my purpose has been my story and drama since yesterday.
One person in our group who’s turned this thing around is Todd Steven Burroughs. Todd drove with our point person from DC to Boulder. He expected to volunteer, but he had a personal agenda as well. Todd is a journalist and lectures at Morgan State. We decided to just go to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver where he could collect interviews for an article and I could watch the drama unfold among the delegates, hot shots, vendors, demonstrators, and security as well as catch up with the DC delegation.
Todd’s first interview was with a group of delegates from Cleveland, OH where the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones represented. Rep. Tubbs Jones died suddenly last week of a brain hemorrhage caused by an aneurism. One of the Ohio delegates was wearing a button for Tubbs Jones. Being a graduate of Oberlin, I’ve always kept an interest in the goings on of Cleveland and Lorain County, OH. In the heat of the primaries I heard Tubbs was getting some flack about her support for Hillary Clinton. These delegates from Obama certainly didn’t mirror that story. These women delegates are definitely on purpose with a passion. Stephanie Tubbs was a sister and always will be.
Sorry, Michael Eric Dyson and former Essence editor-in-chief Susan Taylor. Dyson had his arm around Taylor’s waist to shield her from the evils of fandom. They were moving in quick diva-like strides towards the exits of the Colorado Convention Center at a pace that said, “we’ve got to be somewhere and don’t have time for autographs.” Not so fast. Todd got them and then opened the door for a 10 minute photo op with other fans who noticed. I had to laugh.
Todd and I split up and I decided to float with the DC Vote and DC Delegates for awhile. Through them I got a ride to the Pepsi Center –where I would’ve been if I was “credentialed.” Secret Service everywhere. The ones in khakis are obviously the people people – nice and polite about telling you where you’re not supposed to be. Since I wasn’t credentialed, I couldn’t join the DC delegate candidate I was traveling with inside. So I walked and walked and walked. That was when I met the news reporter who declared “there is no news here.” I was still fuming about the “credentials” snafu and not fulfilling the purpose and plan of my first political convention.
Somehow this walk ended at an event for the Green Party where Colorado Green Party candidates, including Independent Cindy Sheehan (who’s running against Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco) and the Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney were among the speakers. I talked with Gael of CodePink outside organizing banners and all those creative things CodePink comes up with – never predictable. They also distributed an impressive schedule of many DNC Convention events. I met Todd at the café who was hoping to snag an interview with Cynthia McKinney and her running mate Rosa Clemente. We didn’t need credentials to get into the Mercury Café, a “hippie bar” of sorts. I talked a bit with Katheen Cleaver after the event. Whoever caught me in their lens at this event, I have news. No one will be shocked to see me here.