From the Floor: Meet Your Delegate
Jeff Richardson is the Vice Chair of the Democratic Party who will be attending the Democratic National Convention and will also be blogging for D.C. Wire from Denver.
I am Jeffrey D. Richardson and I currently serve as the Vice Chair of the District of Columbia Democratic Party. I am one of D.C.'s representatives on the Democratic National Committee and a proud Barack Obama Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
As a political newcomer and newbie to the blogging world, I am very excited to have this opportunity to share with you my perspective of this historic Democratic National Convention.
Background on me:
I came into national Democratic Party politics as a volunteer in D.C. and New Hampshire for Governor Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. After Governor Dean left the Democratic primary race, I took up the charge to stay involved and work from within to revive and redefine the Democratic Party.
As a grassroots community activist, youth worker, researcher and social worker, I jumped at the opportunity to be a change agent within the Democratic Party. After returning from volunteering at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I rolled up my sleeves and joined a coalition of progressive activists in D.C. to form the D.C. for Democracy Political Action Committee (DCFD), a local chapter of Democracy for America founded by Governor Howard Dean.
As a founding member of D.C. for Democracy I served as the first chair of DCFD's membership and outreach committee. From there I went on to serve as the First Vice President and Interim President of the D.C. Ward 6 Democrats and was elected as Vice Chair of the D.C. Democratic Party in November 2006.
I am a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The Howard University School of Social Work. I worked for seven years as a researcher within Howard University's D.C.-Baltimore Center on Child Health Disparities. I am currently working with non-profits to support the development and implementation of out-of-school-time youth programs in the District of Columbia.
I attended my first Democratic National Convention in 2004 as a volunteer with the DNC and the District of Columbia Democratic Party. I consider it an extreme honor to -- just four years later -- be able to attend the Democratic National Convention as a DNC member and the youngest chair or vice chair of a state party in the country.
I have spent the last eight months working with the local Obama campaign, DC for Obama, to raise funds to transport volunteers out into the states and organize and mobilize D.C. voters for Obama. With being so involved with local party activities, I was not able to travel as much as I would have liked during the primary season, but I did manage to work in Philadelphia for two weekends leading up to the primary. I must say that while Barack Obama didn't win Pennsylvania, the reception I received in Philly was amazing.
I continue to reflect on a comment made by one woman my canvassing team encountered on Election Day in south Philly. She said, "Oh my God, you all are here with Obama, I have a feeling something is happening in this country. I don't care what folks say about not knowing him and experience, all I know is that when the same children that we can't get to pick up trash off these dirty streets are out organizing their friends and families and registering people to vote, something good is happening in this country".
I must say that despite all the critiques, as a young voter, I agree. Young voters have stepped forward this election cycle and are claiming our voices as an important voting demographic in this country. I believe we will have a defining impact on the fall election.
I have high expectations for this convention and the impact it is likely to have on the November elections and American politics in general. The Democratic National Convention Committee and Barack Obama have promised a convention like no other -- "A people's convention" -- and I expect to leave energized and ready to unite with Democrats, Independents, and, yes, even Republicans (yes, I said it) from across the country that have decided to move beyond partisanship and coalesce around a candidate and a movement to bring real change to this country.
Do understand I realize that I am an idealist. My friends remind me regularly that I have drunk the Kool-Aid. But as a trained social worker and the grandchild of grandparents who migrated from Alabama to Cleveland to make a better life for themselves and their families, I can't shake my belief in the power of hope and our ability to empower ourselves and others to do great things.
So with that said, I look forward to introducing myself to you over the next week and sharing the 2008 Democratic National Convention through my lens. I will try very hard to be objective and seek out a variety of opinions and reflections, but in the end I do expect to walk away empowered and hope that some of that will come through to you.
See you in cyberspace!
-- Jeff Richardson
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