DNC Convention Key Takeaway: Lessons from Former President Barack Obama

Barack Obama, DNC Convention, Aug 19, 2020

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On the night of Wednesday August 19, 2020, Barack Obama delivered an unprecedented speech during the Democratic National Convention. Then Kamala Harris formally introduced herself as Joe Biden’s running mate.

The speeches from all the key speakers, including Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, and Barack Obama contained criticisms directed towards President Trump and his administration, but Barack Obama delivered, arguably, the harshest criticism.

Speaking live from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Obama promised, at on set, to speak "plainly". He did. In fact, he appeared to speak from the bottom of his heart and at some point, his anger, frustation, and worries could not be hidden. The anger and frustration in his message could be summarized in one sentence he laid out: “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,”

It is perhaps, the harshest criticism a former president has made of the sitting president. He had waited for 3 and half years, to do so.
President Trump live-tweeted about the speech in unprecedented all-caps tweets, that have become viral across all social media.

Below are the key points from Barack Obama's peech.

What We Do Echoes Through Generations.

Obama's speech highlighted his worries. "Do not let them take away your power. Do not let them take away your democracy... Make a plan right now for how you are going to get involved and vote. Do it as early as you can and tell your family and friends how they can vote too, " Obama said.

"Do what Americans have done for over two centuries when faced with even tougher times than this -- all those quiet heroes who found the courage to keep marching, keep pushing in the face of hardship and injustice.
Last month, we lost a giant of American democracy in John Lewis. Some years ago, I sat down with John and the few remaining leaders of the early Civil Rights Movement. One of them told me he never imagined he'd walk into the White House and see a president who looked like his grandson. Then he told me that he'd looked it up, and it turned out that on the very day that I was born, he was marching into a jail cell, trying to end Jim Crow segregation in the South."

With tears in his eyes, President Obama said:

"what we do echoes through generations. Whatever our backgrounds, we're all the children of Americans who fought the good fight. Great grandparents working in firetraps and sweatshops without rights or representation. Farmers losing their dreams to dust. Irish and Italians and Asians and Latinos told to go back where they came from. Jews and Catholics, Muslims and Sikhs, made to feel suspect for the way they worshipped. Black Americans chained and whipped and hanged. Spit on for trying to sit at lunch counters. Beaten for trying to vote."

Black Lives Matter, No More but No Less

"If anyone had a right to believe that this democracy did not work, and could not work, it was those Americans. Our ancestors. They were on the receiving end of a democracy that had fallen short all their lives. They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth. And yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life."

"I've seen that same spirit rising these past few years. Folks of every age and background who packed city centers and airports and rural roads so that families wouldn't be separated. So that another classroom wouldn't get shot up. So that our kids won't grow up on an uninhabitable planet. Americans of all races joining together to declare, in the face of injustice and brutality at the hands of the state, that Black Lives Matter, no more, but no less, so that no child in this country feels the continuing sting of racism"

Other key takeways from Wednesday are:

* Acceptance of the nomination by Senator Kamal Harris to be Joe Biden's running mate, making history as first woman of color to accept a major party nomination for vice president. Her message could be summarized in one part of the speech: “We’re at an inflection point. The constant ­chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more.” She also said that her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, raised her and her sister “to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage. "

* Nancy Pelosi highlighted the increasing representation and role of women in the US Congress and the hopes to capture the Senate along with the White House from Republicans.

* Sen Elizabeth Warren highlighted the importance of Child Care for working women and families. Sen. Elizabeth Warren paid tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement in a subtle, with the letters "BLM" printed on a shelf over her left shoulder.
In June 2020, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May Sen Elizabeth Warren introduced an amendment calling on the Department of Defense to rename military bases named after Confederate soldiers. Speaking on the amendment from the Senate floor on June 30, Warren declared that Black lives matter: "For weeks, all across this nation, Americans have taken to the streets to call for justice and call for an end to the racist violence that has stolen far too many Black lives," she said at the time. "We say the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and Atatiana Jefferson and so many other Black men and women to reaffirm the simple but powerful truth that they mattered. Their lives mattered. Black lives matter."

During the convention she said:
"We all need to be in the fight to get Joe and Kamala elected. And after November, we all need to stay in the fight to get big things done. We stay in the fight so that when our children and our grandchildren ask what we did during this dark chapter in our nation's history. We will be able to look them squarely in the eye and say, we organized, we persisted, we changed America."