The Atlanta community was absolutely elated that President Barack Obama was coming to Atlanta! He was visiting the city to raise money for his 2012 Presidential bid. In addition to a host of fundraising activities on March, 16, 2012, the Obama for America campaign held its national meeting of the African American Leadership Council. During the conference leaders from across the country met to develop and implement strategies for the reelection of President Obama. The day proceeded with a number of small private fundraisers, ranging in price from $10,000 per person to a private dinner at the home of Tyler Perry for $35,800 per person. The President attended each of these events. The largest fundraiser, however, was held at Tyler Perry Studios during the evening. With tickets ranging in price from $500 to $10,000, the sold-out event attracted over 1000 ATLiens.
My family and I attended the fundraiser at Tyler Perry Studios. Excitement filled the air, as many looked forward to hearing President speak. People were especially excited due to the fact that President Obama rarely visits Atlanta. What a moment to experience the first African American President coming to a fundraising event in Southwest Atlanta, a primarily African American community. As we slowly approached the studios while cars proceeded bumper to bumper, my family and I were amazing to see the number of people young and old who lined the streets just to get a glimpse of the President! It was like a highly anticipated parade!
One particular sight especially touched me. A elderly woman sat patiently waiting to see her President. I asked to take a picture of her and found out that she was 92 years old! Can you imagine what that moment met to her? I almost broke down crying! (I had to catch myself saying, “Ramona, don’t mess up your make-up…Don’t mess up your make-up…” That is the only thing that helped me to keep my composure!)
Although it was exhilarating to see how many African Americans were excited about seeing the President, it was also disconcerting to witness the class divide within the African American community. It was quite evident as we proceeded to the event. Riding in our cars to the event were the black bourgeoisie and upper classes. Lining the streets near the event were the black working and underclasses. How I wish that all of us despite our economic means could have the opportunity to attend the event and be in the presence of our first African American President. We still have a lot of work to do…
The event was fantastic, full of fellowship, food and fun! It was my family’s first visit to the Tyler Perry Studios. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. As we waited for the President to appear, the audience was both stimulated and entertained. The campaign showed “The Road We’ve Traveled”, a 17-minute documentary film about the challenging decisions and outstanding accomplishments of the President’s first term. Atlanta’s own pop star Cee Lo Green performed several of his hits. Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed hyped the crowd and solicited continued support of our President, and then Tyler Perry introduced the President.
I thoroughly enjoyed Tyler Perry’s introduction. Although I have paraphrased his remarks, in essence, they are as follows:
“How unbelievable is this? This is serial to me. As a child I had a very active imagination. I dreamed of performing in and producing shows. I dreamed of making movies. I dreamed of being an entrepreneur and owning my own business. I dreamed of having my own studio. But even with my vivid imagination, I never dreamed that I would see the Presidential Motorcade with the first African American President coming through Southwest Atlanta! This moment should speak to us about taking the limits off of our our imagination and exploring our infinite possibilities…”
President Obama was on point, too. He talked about the accomplishments of his first term as President: withdrawing troops from Iraq, stimulating the economy, saving the auto industry, and health care reform. When talking about health care President Obama declared, “They can call it Obamacare, because I do care!” He also talked about the many challenges that he has experienced during his first term, but emphasized the need to persevere so that he could finish the work that he is determined to do. The President concluded stating that he needed Atlanta’s continued support and through our efforts we can make a difference in and for all of America.
After having only spent a few hours in Atlanta, President Obama raised about $5 million dollars! That is quite impressive. I am so glad that my family and I could make our contributions toward the President’s continued success.