I have seen Barack Obama speak every time he has been in Detroit campaigning. For the first time, it was 2006 and I was covering the event for the Detroit Free Press. That is when I first understood what he was about. Well actually, that was the first time I even really began to know who he really was. He captivated his supporters at Cobo Hall. I was along the back of the row filming. During his speech, it seemed as though I was the only journalist really looking at him, really listening to him, really excited he was here. I am a (was) a Republican Moderate until I heard Obama speak. Mostly because I just really like the guy. For what he stands for, yes, most of it. But I remember coming back from that speech, walking on Fort Street the 5 blocks to the Free Press building entrance excited for the possibility of having Obama be president. That was 2 years ago.
The next time I covered Obama in Detroit was June 2008 and I shot with a 1962 Polaroid camera with ISO 75 film. I arrived at 5pm and the speech was at 8pm. I had a flight that night for Honduras/El Salvador for another asignment for E+Co (www.eandco.net) which took off at 1am. I hadn’t packed or checked my gear. But I knew I wanted to be at this rally. I got clearance to be “Press” by standing in the Press line. Very difficult. I would argue that I was photographing for my documentary I am making about Detroit. Anyways. I walked into the floor of Cobo Arena to the sound of thousands of people chanting various Obama cheers. “Yes We Can”. As I entered I did this walking 360, spinning around amazed at the site of reporters and supporters, police and babies, signs and stands.
Looking back at the event today, I realized how much the people of Detroit need something to believe in, something to chear about. My first suggestion would be God, for he is good. During the speech I would turn around to watch people watching Barack. People would have a relaxed look on their face. Relaxed and confident. They would take deep breaths without the little tug at the end deep in their chest. No one was speaking at all until he gave us something to chear about.
Obama speaks about Change. Change from what to what I wonder. I have traveled much in 26 years and seen what we in the USA call “developing countries”. We call them developing as if we were developed. In a person’s life, learning is life long. Until they are no more. This nation needs change, we need to understand where we need to go next. The racial card has been played for the past 50 years+ and now, I believe, it is time we get over it. I am all about equality, but equality without acknowledgement of color. My new friend from Puerto Rico says, “There are too many people too close together in Puerto Rico for there to be division. People are just people”. Obama is change to me. Sometimes I don’t even think you need to know where the change will take you, or even where it will come from. Just one person saying, “Things will Change” is what we need here and now. When I drive around Detroit looking for photographs, I see that we are not too far from a developing country too. If we cease to develop as a country though, we cease to mature as a nation.
In my travels I have seen how much the world hates our government, America. It is amazing the bubble that we live in. It is not our fault. Other countries like Ghana and Sweden, Vietnam and Cambodia, have a plethora of Americana in their everyday lives. Most of their movies, shows, music and pop culture comes from the States. Now multiply that by a bizillion and that is what we live in. It is hard for us to get out of it. Nor do we really want to. (WE being the average citizen from my observation). When the Georgian war started I was in Sicily and never felt closer to a foriegn war. I wanted to be there to document.