Saturday, July 18, 2009

NAACP: 100 Years, One Historic Night, by Michael Blake

FRIDAY, JULY 17TH, 2009 AT 6:08 PM

There are some moments in our lives where we have an "I was there" moment. A moment that despite your best attempts to explain how you felt, what you perceived that others were feeling, the words that were shared and the fanfare of the activity, you still can't convey how remarkable an experience it was that you just shared.

I had that moment on Thursday, July 16th, 2009 as did so many others when President Barack Obama went to the 100th anniversary convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

(President Barack Obama speaks at the NAACP 100th anniversary convention in New York City July 16, 2009. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson.)

Everyone had a feeling of excitement beyond description. Many dignitaries were present. NAACP leaders from across the country embarked to New York - a city filled with historical civil rights moments, which oftentimes are forgotten about because they weren't occurring in the historic South. But, the first moment that captured my attention was watching the line of people form slowly throughout the afternoon as they waited patiently despite their palpable excitement. The look of pride and accomplishment amongst a people who many times didn't feel such positive feelings was evident.

Later, as the president met several leaders of NAACP, it was the genuine appreciation that humbled me and made me even more proud to work for him as he shook the hands of the staff despite the large number of them being present. There were a lot of people there whose names many times go unmentioned and unnoticed for work they do to fight for greater equality, never caring that their name is in lights. To have their work recognized by the President of the United States added a special dimension to the night that the media didn't capture, but it was equally important. I was fortunate to see it. I was there.

And then, there was the speech.

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Michael Blake is the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement & Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

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