We here at JJP are fortunate enough to have Craig Hickman in our midst. In case you didn’t know, Craig was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and brough us wonderful reports from the field, as well as superb pictures.

Well, Craig was at the Electoral College Ceremony for the state of Maine, where he witnessed history. This is his account.

Emotional Electoral College Ceremony

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Emotional Electoral College Ceremony

THIS PAST MONDAY, I attended the constitutional process of Maine’s Electoral College ceremony in the Chamber of the House of Representatives at the State House in Augusta, Maine, to legally elect Democrat Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States. I dressed for the occasion. I took a ton of pictures.

And I wept.

Most of my friends know that I can’t stand the Electoral College. I’m a democratic (small “d) purist. Our president ought to be elected by popular vote. One person, one vote. Look what happened in 2000. We’re still paying for it.

So while I’ve heard most, if not all, the arguments for and against, I stand firmly against.

But it’s here to stay. I can’t imagine the small states ever ratifying a constitutional amendment to eliminate it. Every four years, presidential electors will perform their constitutional duty, like it or not. I wasn’t about to miss this one. What I witnessed at the staid ceremony left me breathless.

I could have missed the history of the Electoral College presented by Neil Rolde. The wife of Robert O’Brien, elector at-large and my delegate roommate in Denver, whispered in my ear that Rolde needed to work on his delivery. I responded that he was a perfect symbol of the College – old, stodgy, and white. He finished by reminding us that slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person for the purposes of enumeration and representation in the House of Representatives a mere 150 years ago.

Shortly after this reminder, the electors chose a Black woman to preside over the official proceedings. Portland Mayor Jill Duson, the first Black mayor of the largest city in the whitest state in the union.

In remarks from the rostrum, Duson drew attention to the historical significance of the election of America’s first black president, evoking Barbara Jordan.

Noting the cultural shifts in our history since she attended a segregated school as a child, Duson said her place as head of a state’s Electoral College electing a black president was stunning.

“What in the world am I supposed to say?” said Duson. “I say Amen, hallelujah and well done.”

Jill was also an Obama delegate to Denver so I got to know her. I’ve asked for the full text of her emotional closing remarks at the end of the ceremony and will update this post when I receive them.

Read the rest of the article at the link above, and definitely go to see the wonderful slideshow.

Thank you, Craig.

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