by Maria Roberts of http://aestheticelevation.com
There is something to be said about history. Whether you are aiming for it, made it, or trying to preserve it. Here are just a few examples:
1. President Barack Obama: Leader of the free world, first African-American President. Every step, every word, every gesture is history in the making. Figuratively and literally.
2. The National Urban League: celebrating 100 years of service while continuing to provide service through partnerships that strive to give us equal access to housing, education and health care. Many non-profits could only wish to last half that time.
3. RiaRob: unassuming blogger and all around regular “joann,” hoping to make some mark in this big world and make some history of my own.
SUMMATION: One President + One League + One Blogger (of many) =HISTORY
I had the pleasure of being present at President Obama’s speech on education reform to the National Urban League to commemorate its Plenary Session during its Centennial Celebration. To put it in words may be difficult, but I will try. Here’s RiaRob’s rundown of this historical moment. To be quite frank, I’m still in shock.
That’s me, RiaRob! A little tired but this trip was definitely worth it!
6:45 a.m.: RiaRob reports to the Convention Center, amped and excited. After receiving an invite to come along with the fabulous ladies of Blogalicious, I was wired without assistance from coffee (which is rare).
Here are all the fabulous bloggers who joined Blogalicious for this historical event. Of course, I am in the back row on the far right looking goofy (multiple cameras taking shots did not know where to turn).
6:50 a.m.: I check in, get my press pass, and take a seat. Then I begin to link up with other cool bloggers I met at previous Blogalicious events (always a good thing!).
7:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.: This time goes like a whirlwind. More press come through. A White House staffer comes and gives us the Official White House Press Pool Pass to attach to our NUL press pass. We break down our computer, pack up, line up, and walk single file down the hall to a security check. We are then instructed to drop all of our bags, walk through the metal detector, stop (and turn) for the body scan, then step to the side as we watch a huge drug sniffing dog check every single bag (that’s right…every.single.bag.). Once completed, we had to literally run, close up our bags, and dart to the auditorium where the speech would be held. (NOTE: Note that my Calvin Klein patent leather peep toe platform heels are NOT the move right now. Activate Havaianas flip-flops and all is well in the world now).
Screenshot from the big screen. Remember this slogan: “I Am Empowered.”
8:55 a.m.: Seated in the general press area, awaiting The President’s arrival. Tick, tock, tick, tick, tock.
9:16 a.m.: The Announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats.” Now I know I am supposed to be professional and all, but my insides are saying “Aw suki, suki, now.”
National Urban League President/CEO Mark H. Morial brings greetings and opening remarks.
Pitney Bowes President and CEO Murray D. Martin
9:18 a.m.: NUL PResident and CEO Mark H. Morial takes to the podium to offer greetings. You know the cadence, “Good Morning Urban Leaguers!” After a few opening statements, Morial introduces Murray D. Martin, President and
CEO of Pitney Bowes. During his remarks, Martin announces that as Pitney Bowes celebrates 90 years in business, 60 of those years were and still are in partnership with the National Urban League.
Centene Corporation Chairman, President, and CEO Michael Niedorff
9:23 a.m.: Morial introduces Michael Niedorff, Chairman, President, and CEO of Centene Corporation. Niedorff announces that Centene will continue in their partnership with the National Urban League so it can continue to be the strong face of advocacy to ensure everyone has access to quality housing, education and health care.
9:29 a.m.: Morial addresses the audience that the President will be arriving shortly. The waiting game begins…again.
9:40 a.m.: My laptop decides to give out. I still have my iPhone (remind me to thank Apple). Sudden deaths of laptop battery power amongst the Press Pool is imminent.
9:45 a.m.: Amidst all the chatter and music, I, like many, to hear a helicopter. The leader of the free world just landed.
10:02 a.m.: The BIG Announcement: Ladies and Gentleman, please take your seats.” Scramble time for many.
NUL President and CEO Mark Morial introduces President Barack Obama
10:07 a.m.: Mark Morial returns to the stage and reminds every one of the promise then Senator Obama made while on the Presidential campaign trial: that if he was elected he would come address the National Urban League. That time is now. I make my way to the press platform…
President Barack Obama addresses the National Urban League
10:09 a.m.: PROMISE KEPT. HISTORY COMMENCES.
RiaRob has been blessed to be at special places at special times, but never nothing like this. I am on a press platform getting elbowed (and throwing a few elbows of my own – I’m never scared) to get THE SHOT of a lifetime: a picture of President Barack Obama.
I’ll be the first to say that television does not do The President justice. To watch him on television is one thing, but to see him in one of many historical moments is simply mesmerizing. Walk with me on this one:
10:09 a.m: The President of the United States walks onto the stage amidst a roar that I have never experienced. Women (and a few men) screaming and cheering. He greets the crowd and the hush that follows when he starts his speech is thunderous (NOTE: E.F. Hutton would have been green with envy.). He begins with greetings and mention of the aforementioned promise he made two years prior at the Urban League Conference in Orlando. More cheers. “Got Orlando in the house,” he quips.It is REALLY OFFICIAL, Obama is the man.
10:12 a.m. – 10:33 a.m.: Mr. President hits the ground running in his education reform speech that covers everything from correlations to African-American unemployment rates to grants to Race to the Top initiatives and challenges (take that, No Child Left Behind) and the Shirley Sherrod controversy. There’s a lot of laughter and applause.
THE PRESIDENT: We’re making loan repayment more manageable, so young people don’t graduate — like Michelle and me — with such big loan payments every month.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you!
THE PRESIDENT: You’re welcome. Right there. (Laughter.) You can relate. (Laughter.)
10:34 a.m.: The President addresses the plight of the nation’s teachers, who seem to lack the needed support (financially and otherwise) to continue teaching. QUOTE: “I don’t want talented young people to say I’d love to teach but I can’t afford it.”
10:46 a.m.: As The President continues, I’m hit with the quote of the day: “And it is true, as I’ve said since I ran for President, and that everybody here knows firsthand, change is hard. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. That’s why I’ve got all this gray hair. (Laughter.)”
10:56 a.m.: The President closes out his speech by mentioning a letter he received from 10-year old Na’dreya Lattimore, of Covington, Kentucky. It’s amazing how children just have things figured out and we as adults are simply trying to catch up. I know she was somewhere jumping for joy. Nothing like a shout out, especially from the President.
10:59 a.m.: Speech ends. We are all amazed at what we just saw. Some of us are tearing up.
To Stacey Ferguson (@JusticeFergie on Twitter) and Nyasha Smith (@JusticeNY on Twitter) of Blogalicious for this unprecedented opportunity in my life as a writer and blogger. If there was any doubt that any of us had as writers, creatives, and cool social media chicks, they were erased with this instance.
To the fabulous bloggers I meet with through Blogalicious: being in your presence is strength, I am humbled in the moments we shared on this historical day.
For the official transcript of President Obama’s speech, click here.
To view the President’s speech on education reform, see below.