It was as though she were telling the folks in the room that Tuesday night is over and it’s time to stop basking in the glow of her widely praised speech. Get to work, to “make sure that every single person that you know that is within the sound of your voice, your touch, your breath — make sure you get to them, your friends, your neighbors, that nephew you haven’t seen for a while” — and make sure they’re registered, get to the polls and cast a vote, she said.
Her urging reflects widespread concerns that black voter turnout could make a sizable difference in several swing states. The first lady painted alternate visions for Nov. 7, the day after the election: “Do you want to wake up wondering, ‘Could I have done more?’ or ‘feeling the promise of four more years’?”
Joyce Rose-Harris, a delegate from Columbia, S.C., said that she was “encouraged and inspired to work even harder” by the first lady’s remarks. Besides her full-time job as a systems analyst, Rose-Harris does digital media for Obama for America.
Michelle Obama “keeps it real but does it in an intelligent manner,” said Rose-Harris, who is from Chicago and said she attended the high school rival of the first lady’s alma mater. Rose-Harris said that she would heed the first lady’s call to get out the vote in a battleground state — in this delegate’s case, neighbor North Carolina, which the president won by only 14,000 votes in 2008 — or, as Michelle Obama put it on Wednesday, “five votes per precinct.”
Anika Cobb, who is scheduled to graduate from Johnson C. Smith, Charlotte’s historically black university, in December, said of the first lady, “She understands us.” Cobb, who is coordinator of JCSU’s Run DNC project, which chronicles the stories of Charlotte’s west side, said that the description of the Obamas’ history of once being so young, so in love and so in debt is something to which she can relate. Besides her school activities, Cobb works three jobs and has an internship — and said she is still going broke. Regarding the relationship between the first couple, “the fact that she believes in him” means a lot to Cobb.
The Obamas’ story also struck a chord with Kelly Ganges, of Trenton, N.J. The first lady tells “what it’s like to share love with a man. For black folks,” he said, “that’s important for us to hear.”
Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to the Washington Post “She the People” blog, The Root, Fox News Charlotte and Creative Loafing. She has worked at the New York Times and Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter.