stephanie-m-harris_web.jpgA monstrous roar pervaded the crowd as Debbie Wasserman-Schultz introduced Barack Obama. The music of Bruce Springsteen’s “My city of ruins” with its contagious chorus of “come on, rise up!” welcomed Senator Obama into the frantic arena.  The energy was absolutely amazing. As a young teenager being able to attend an important historic event, I would have to say that the experience was simply phenomenal.

Thousands of Obama fans awaited the opening of the doors to the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables after waiting in the blistering sun. Because I am a teen columnist for the South Florida Times, I was able to avoid the lines and go directly into the press section.

Obama’s “Women’s Rally for the Change We Need” began at around noon with Donna E. Shalala welcoming everyone to the university over which she has presided since 2001.

The rally seemed to go as planned with the exception of a minor disruption from a group of black Obama protesters. The disturbance began unexpectedly, as the senator spoke with, “Obama, go home!” They then held up signs saying “Obama Endorsed by the KKK,” “Obama for Abortion (murder),” “Jesse Jackson Hates Obama for Federal Child Support Act,” “Blacks against Obama,” and “Obama for Gay Marriage.”

When I saw those protestors hold up those signs, I saw such anger on their faces and wondered to myself, “Why would you try to demean a man of your race, or of any race for that matter, just because he believes in what’s right?’’

I noticed that one of the signs had a website. Later, I pulled up the page and saw that there was a link to yet another website, which had a video of this Michael character talking about Obama in such a way that made me absolutely sick to my stomach.

Michael said that “Obama is an African against black Americans being born.”  He also called Obama “the beast that the Bible was talking about.”

My beliefs about this phenomenal man are way different.

A year ago, I wasn’t as interested in the presidential campaign as I am now. A year ago, if you were to ask me who Barack Obama was, I would respond with, “Isn’t he running for president or something?”

This year, hearing about the changes he would like to see happen, and his desire to be the one to make them happen, gave me a new perspective of who Barack Obama really is and what he stands for.

Watching his Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech and his campaign rallies on TV was amazing,  but it doesn’t measure up to seeing him in the flesh and being in the same building with him.

I’m so grateful for being able to see the first African-American Democratic presidential candidate – and even more thankful that he stands such an awesome chance of becoming the president.

I guess when I grow up,  like my parents, I will also try to convince my children that history is important. The difference is that when I grow up, I will be able to say that I saw history in the making. When I grow up, I will be able to tell my children and my grandchildren about the day that I saw Barack Obama.

Sept. 19, 2008 is the day that I will never forget; the day I saw the man whom I believe with all my heart will become our next president of the United States.


Stephanie Michelle Harris is the daughter of South Florida Times Associate Editor Renee Michelle Harris.