Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Obama at The Raleigh Times Bar

Yesterday I ran for a glimpse of our next president.

Sitting here at my computer, I'd half-consciously noted that a helicopter was hovering overhead. And that it wasn't going away. But didn't pause to ask myself why.

Then I got a hurried shouting cell phone call from my office partner who had walked down the street with her husband to eat dinner. Traffic was blocked, she said, and Obama was working his way down Hargett Street shaking hands.

Hargett Street is one block from my office. Had I not paused to put on lipstick, I'd have seen more. Nonetheless, I arrived breathless in time to see him, across the intersection, stepping lankily into his car. Even with the door shut, I could still see the trademark white shirt and tie through the glare on the window, which I watched until his entourage was gathered and headed out.

Thrilling! Seriously!

Obama and his wife had dropped into The Raleigh Times bar for 15 minutes and a beer. Owner Greg Hatem had had 30 minutes notice that he was coming. It was enough time for hundreds of people to gather, spilling out onto the sidewalks and filling the street, clapping and cheering and pressing to meet the candidate.

This bar and restaurant is named for the newspaper that was housed in the building, the same paper where I later had my first grownup job, as a reporter covering the desegregation of the Raleigh schools. (I blogged about a Times reunion there just before the restaurant opening.)

After growing up in this state in the Jim Crow era, to be able to see Obama campaigning at The Raleigh Times bar, to see a black man overwhelmingly win in North Carolina, where once blacks had to sit in to get a seat at a counter, gives me such pride and hope. We've come a long way.

And the undeniably bold Obama is already taking us closer to the way a neighborhood ought to be.

I look forward to celebrating his presidency.

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mamie said...

Peggy, There is definitely an aura that surrounds Obama. Another friend happened to be close enough to touch him and take his picture at Dorton Arena the other night and says it was the highlight of his life. You have to pay attention to someone who has such a strong effect on people, even from a distance.

Peggy Payne said...

I'm hoping he exerts that kind of appeal to the majority of Americans.

Nick said...

It was so exciting to be sitting at home in Los Angeles watching Obama's excellent speech at Reynolds Coliseum. It really felt like he has already secured the nomination....Fingers crossed.

Great to see how and what you're doing, Peggy. I was doubly thrilled to read about the Raleigh Times bar; as an alum ('74-'77....Yikes!!!) I can't think of a better tribute.

Best, Nick Peters

ann berry said...

Tho I'd been at local Obama HQ, two blocks from the Times Bar, earlier Tuesday, I missed the Hargett Street event. But hearing him in person last week at Dorton Arena confirmed my instinct that this guy is the real deal, the finest leader we've found at least since the Ks (JFK, RFK, MLK) and maybe since FDR, whose time I clearly and fondly remember. Barack calls us to be our best selves. What more could we ask?
My best to Peggy and all Times alums...and keep on hoping.

Ann Berry

Peggy Payne said...

Hey Nick, Funny to me that you'd be watching a candidate in Raleigh from LA. I'm right proud of us, and I'm used to being pretty pessimistic about how the state will vote. I'm glad to hear from you. I hope things are going great with you.

Peggy Payne said...

Ann, I never realized the number of K's in the names. BaracK does qualify.

The man does inspire. I'm counting on great things. Like getting out of Iraq and not attacking anyone else.

lynne said...

Yep, NC's come a long way baby since the JH (no K) days. Lynne

Peggy Payne said...

I trust you're referring to Jesse Helms? Not Jim Hunt, who did right well, in my view.

lynne said...

Oh, yes of course Jesse.