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Sen. Barack Obama led another fan thrilled charge from his podium that railed against Wall Street and Washington for the current financial crisis. As we all know in Michigan, bad news relating to the economy is no new news at all. The state has the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 8.9%, more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs have gone under and the mortgage foreclosure rate is among the highest in the nation. So what is knew from the Obama campaign?

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Sen. Barack Obama led another fan thrilled charge from his podium that railed against Wall Street and Washington for the current financial crisis. As we all know in Michigan, bad news relating to the economy is no new news at all. The state has the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 8.9%, more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs have gone under and the mortgage foreclosure rate is among the highest in the nation. So what is knew from the Obama campaign?

“We meet here at a time of great uncertainty in Detroit and all across America. The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led us to a financial crisis as serious as any we have faced since the Great Depression,” Obama said. “I know these are difficult days and nowhere has it been more difficult than Michigan and Detroit. But here’s what I also know: We can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because that’s what we’ve always done as Americans.”

“It looks like we have a rescue plan that includes these taxpayer protections. And it looks like we will pass that plan very soon,” Obama said. “But our job is far from over. Because now that we’re fixing the mess on Wall Street, we need to move with the same sense of urgency to help families on Main Street.”

As I drove up to the event traffic was already backed up. . To my benefit, know the city well so driving on side streets all the way up to the ceremony on Woodward was not hard, even with only 30 minutes to go. The temp was a cool 70 degrees or so as I parked my car in one of the many back alley ways of Detroit. People were talking here and there whether or not Obama would only speak for a few minutes like he did last time in Heart Plaza. I brought my video camera and still camera to fit both appetites that the media has for distribution. There was a great mixture again of people of all colors and ages walking in the direction of the large American flag draped over the famous street. I went up to a cop to see if he knew which direction Obama would be facing and he answered, ” Do you know what kind of question you are asking, I should arrest you”.  Woah, ok, next cop. I could not see the podium through the trees on the DIA lawn so I asked that cop. I think he over reacted as there were about  70,000 people looking at an empty podium for an hour before Obama was to take stage. Being press you can go about anywhere you want to behind the scenes relatively speaking. I got there with only 30 minutes to go, signed in and was off to the stage with nobody in my way.  When I wanted to get into the crowd though the volunteer kindly stated, “Only normal people are allowed in here”. Time to get creative. The biggest thing about shooting with photographers that have been in the biz for more years than I have been alive is to find the angle that is not taken and make the best of it. Now with over 200 press crawling around, that is a hard thing to do. But I managed with what I had. So I went medium high, close and super high, calling on my friends in the Park Shelton to open a window for me. I was the only “professional” photographer to shoot from that high up. From the podium area you could notice little men with big guns from every room in the surrounding area. No helicopters from what I could see.

visit http://www.detroitreborn.com for more photographs on Detroit. All photographs on this site and this blog are copywrited and are the property of Stephen McGee. Any use of the photographs without permission is illegal.

More to come later..

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.

There was a lot of waiting for over 200000 Michiganders trying to catch a gander of Barack Obama today at the Heart Plaza in downtown Detroit. I live about 1 mile away from Heart Plaza so my goal was to park as close as I could without getting stuck in after event traffic. I took Atwater drive and parked within a 20 minute walk. Now with this being Labor Day, I was hoping that the GM Starbucks was going to be not excercising the holiday.  And much to my happiness there were four baristas ready to take my order. With a caramel macch I was out the door charged to document this event. First photo I took was of a group of pigeons that reminded me of the workers taking a lunch break over the skyline of New York photograph.

Getting closer to the crowd the noise made it clear that there were a lot of people waiting for Obama. You needed to arrive 3 hours earlier than I did to be able to get a golden ticket to get into the actual event. For the 40000 others like me who did not, we were stuck outside watching a huge screen. Obama took the stage and the crowd erupted. Just a few days after taking the nomination, I was expecting a go get’m speech from Obama. Instead in what seemed to be only 3 minutes, Obama hit the Detroit crowd with as few of words as he could have said to make his points clear and still woo us, the audience.

In between photographs I was pumping my fist in support after he opened up his speech with singing the Aretha song, “Chain Chain chain” which received a lot of clapping and started the mass to become a choir. From what I hear, Obama cut short his planned speech and instead asked for prayers for those in the Gulf Coast facing the wrath of Hurricane Gustav. After the moment of silence he stated that in this America, many of us are going through silent storms in our own lives.  Even though the speech was only a few minutes long, I was further charged to vote for Obama. As quickly as it began it had ended and the exodus had begun.It was clear some supporters were disappointed in Obama’s small speech but I have a feeling he will be back here before the election.

McCain’s big week is being trumped in the news by the hurricane in the South. I have a friend, Garrett Hubbard, who is there right now covering the hurricane for USA Today.

For his second event in Michigan, Obama went to Monroe and began speaking a little after 1:15 p.m., telling the audience that he was again going to shorten his speech in light of Hurricane Gustav, just as he did earlier in Detroit.

He championed the labor movement saying “if it had not been for organized labor America wouldn’t have the middle class that we know. ”

Referring to Hurricane Gustav, Obama said “in times like these it’s a reminder that with all our differences, we are one America.

http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080901/NEWS15/80901024