Obama Gets Rock-Star Welcome in Atlanta

At a fundraiser at Tyler Perry Studios, the president was in his comfort zone.

Barack Obama and Tyler Perry greet each other. (AFP)
Barack Obama and Tyler Perry greet each other. (AFP)

He didn’t sing this time, but President Barack Obama did do his own version of a two-step dance as he hit the stage Friday evening. The occasion was a fundraiser for his 2012 re-election bid, at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

The event was the second fundraising stop President Obama made during his trip to Atlanta. Soon after his arrival, he attended an event at local businessman McKinley “Mack” Wilbourn Jr.’s home, where 100 guests paid $10,000 each to attend. He then traveled to Southwest Atlanta, where several people lined Greenbriar Parkway in the predominantly African-American neighborhood to get a glimpse of the commander-in-chief as his motorcade headed to Tyler Perry Studios.

Ticket prices for the event ranged from $250 to $10,000. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, U.S. Reps. John Lewis, David Scott, Hank Johnson and Sanford Bishop, along with Rev. Joseph Lowery, were among the 1,000 people who attended. Later in the evening, Perry hosted an intimate gathering at his residence for about 40 guests that carried an eye-popping $35,000 per ticket price tag.

Although President Obama’s approval ratings may rise and fall, one thing was evident during his Atlanta visit: He is still a rock star in many Americans’ eyes. And Friday’s crowd at Tyler Perry Studios was proof of that.

As attendees of the affair waited for President Obama to hit the stage, the crowd started cheering, “four more years,” and once the president began speaking, people intermittently shouted out, “I love you.”

Southwest Atlanta has been stigmatized as crime-ridden, although it’s home to low-income and multimillion dollar residences alike, and many of Atlanta’s African-American politicians have ties to the area — including Mayor Reed — and either grew up or live there. So the presidential visit to the area was a big deal for some, as Perry pointed out just before he introduced Obama. Who would have thought, he asked the audience, that “there would be a day when the presidential motorcade would come through Southwest Atlanta?”