Democratic National Convention spans all across America

The Democratic National Convention took place over the course of four nights beginning on Aug. 17 and ending on Aug. 20. At the convention, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris were nominated as the presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively. Many prominent Democratic politicians across the nation and with varying political beliefs spoke at the mostly virtual convention.

The first night of the convention served as a warm up for the Democratic party to give out its platform. 

One of the most notable speakers early on was Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, who said, “People of all races, all ages, all genders, all backgrounds peacefully protesting in the name of love and unity. It’s a fitting legacy for our brother, but George should be alive today. Breonna Taylor should be alive today. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. Eric Garner should be alive today. Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland, they should all be alive today. So it’s up to us to carry on the fight for justice. Our actions will be their legacies.” 

Later, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized the federal government’s response regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the handling of the Black Lives Matter movement. “The divisions have been growing deeper, the anti-semitism, the anti-latino, the anti-immigrant further the racism in Charlottesville where the KKK didn’t even bother to wear their hoods. Today, we trail the world in defeating COVID. We have over five million cases. Americans learned a critical lesson, how vulnerable we are when we are divided and how many lives can be lost when our government is incompotent,” Cuomo said.

Bernie Sanders, independent senator from Vermont, was also a key speaker on the first night of the convention. Sanders was the major rival of Biden during the primary campaign, but he reserved his criticism for the Trump administration instead. “Let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy. During this president’s term, the unthinkable has become normal…[President Donald Trump’s] actions fanned this pandemic resulting in over 170,000 deaths and a nation still unprepared to protect its people. Together we must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate and more inclusive,” Sanders said.

The major speaker at the very end of the first night was former first lady Michelle Obama. Michelle spoke about racial justice and criticized the White House for its response to this movement, “As George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office. Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership, or consolation, or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy,” Michelle said.

On the second night of the convention, the official roll call of delegates was taken. Sanders and Joe both received delegates, however Sanders had already dropped months before the roll call and was not intending to stage an upset as it would be mathematically impossible. The roll call was different this year due to the virtual format, and each state and US territory was able to give a speech by a prominent member of their community and they were able to announce the vote from their home state. This allowed for each state and territory’s respective Democratic party to highlight specific issues impacting said area.

Fred Guttenberg, a gun control advocate, announced the delegate count for Florida. When giving his speech Guttenberg talked about his experience with Joe. “When my daughter was murdered in Parkland, Joe Biden called to share our family’s grief. I quickly learned about his decency and his civility, but I also learned about his toughness,” Guttenberg said.

Another speaker on the second night was Jacquelyn Brittany, an elevator worker at the New York Times. Brittany met Biden during the primary when he was interviewed by the New York Times editorial board for their endorsement, and although Biden did not gain their endorsement, he gained Brittany’s. “I take powerful people up on my elevator all the time. When they get off they go to their important meetings. Me, I just head back to the lobby. But in the short time I spent with Joe Biden I could tell he really saw me, that he actually cared, that my life meant something to him,” Brittany said. 

The ending speech was given by the former second lady Dr. Jill Biden. Joe lost his first wife and daughter in a car crash right after his first election to the US Senate. “I fell in love with a man and two little boys standing in the wreckage of unthinkable loss…How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole, with love and understanding,” Jill said.

The third night of the convention had a focus on Harris, the nominee for Vice President, as she was unanimously nominated as the vice presidential candidate on the third night. Former President Barack Obama and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also gave speeches.

Singer Billie Eilish was one of the musical performers and gave a short speech before her performance, saying, “Donald Trump is destroying our country and everything we care about. We need leaders who will solve problems like climate change and COVID, not deny them.”

Warren gave a rebuke of the Trump administration, saying, “Donald Trump’s ignorance and incompetence have always been a danger to our country. COVID-19 was Trump’s biggest test, he failed miserably.”

Barack also criticized the Trump presidency in his speech. “This administration has shown that it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes for them to win. So we have to get busy building it up, by pouring all our efforts into these 76 days, and by voting like never before,” he said.  

Harris gave the final speech of the night and began talking about her upbringing as a Black and Indian woman. “My mother raised mostly on her own… she made it look easy, though it never was. She raised us to be proud strong Black women, and she raised us to be proud of our Indian heritage and she told us to be proud of your family,” Harris said.

Harris also spoke on systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter protests. “There is no vaccine for racism. We’ve got to do the work, for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor, for the lives of too many others to name. For our children, we’ve got to do the work to fulfill that promise of equal justice under the law… none of us are free until all of us are free,” Harris said.

The fourth night of the convention focused the most on Joe and featured Joe as the speaker to wrap up the convention.

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur and a candidate in the Democratic primary urged people to “give this country, our country, a chance to recover, and recovery is only possible with a change in leadership and new ideas.”  

Brayden Harrington met Joe in New Hampshire at a campaign event and talked about his conversation with Joe. “Without Joe Biden I wouldn’t be talking to you today. About a few months ago, I met him in New Hampshire. He told me we were members of the same club. We stutter. It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became vice president,” Harrington said.

Finally, at the end of the final night Joe himself was able to speak. He started the speech off by saying, “With great honor and great humility, I accept this nomination for President of the United States of America.”

Joe wrapped up his speech discussing how pain and trauma can affect people, relating it to his personal struggles to when his father lost his job, when he lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident, or to when his son Beau Biden passed away in 2015. “I have some idea how it feels to lose someone you love. I know that deep black hole that opens up in the middle of your chest and you feel like you’re being sucked into it, and how mean and cruel and unfair life can be sometimes. But I’ve learned two things. First, your loved one may have left this earth, but they’ll never leave your heart. They’ll always be with you, you ‘ll always hear them. And second, I found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose,” Joe said.

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