This was overall AWESOME. Such incredible energy. The city is filled with positive vibes and people are bubbly & happy. This is despite the fact that for a former DC resident, the only parallel I have to this many people in the street at one time combined with humvees and tanks in the streets, a robust police/military presence, planes and copters in the air etc reminds me inevitably of the scene on 9/11. Then, however, people were rushing out of the city for their lives.

Today, people rushed into the city to celebrate. Obama’s speech was a bit of a rehash of other speeches IMHO yet it was certainly the highlight of the day. Hearing his words echo and reverberate through the crowd, traveling for miles to the cheap seats was breath-taking. Having Pete Seeger & Bruce Springsteen lead a sing-along of “This Land is Your Land” was a truly bizarre and anti-climactic moment for a crowd that would much preferred to hear Beyonce (who emerged later to close the program). Actually for DC, it would have been perfect if Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers had come on out with a rendition of “It Don’t Mean a Thing…if It Ain’t Got Obama”.

But it was all in good spirits. The soon-to-be First Family (including sister Maya and family, the girls, grandma plus the Bidens) sat in a glass & presumably heated and bulletproof box on stage.

The presenters and entertainers seemed a bit like a roster of Obama donors and those who had been early supporters like John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, Steve Carrell and others. In the media section where Baratunde/Jack and I were lucky enough to be able to stand, there was also a lot of emotion at work with applause, jokes and camaraderie throughout.

While the media was tickled to have George Lopez, Jack Black and Kal Penn come on stage, the folks who got the biggest rise out of the crowd (besides the chant of Obama, Obama after the O-man’s speech) were Jamie Foxx, Samuel L Jackson & Queen Latifah. The clip above is Jamie Foxx encouraging all from Chi-Town to “stand up”. Baratunde and I were like, oh lord, he’s gettin em stirred up! He also preceded to do a great imitation of Barack Obama. Which was hilarious yet stirring. (forgive the shaky camera work – I’ve got lots more video from the event).

Baratunde joked when Denzel Washington opened the program — “oh it’s the other most famous black man in America!” which drew a big laugh from the nearby press corps. Only Will Smith would have completed the trifecta of most famous black men who really want to play Obama in a movie. There seemed to be some auditioning going on though NOT from Samuel L Jackson wearing his trademark Kangol cap.

Both media and audience were disappointed when comedians came on stage and were…not funny. This was a bit weird. I thought Kal Penn was a great choice since Asian-Americans came out in force for Obama in 2008. Kumar!

The audience was also let down that Latifah neither sang nor rapped. Oh well. U2 was a big moment for everyone when Bono told us all that this was not just an American dream, but an Irish dream, an African dream, a Pakistani dream, an Israeli dream…a Palestinian dream. I believe that. Still the dream was a bit dimmed when Wyclef Jean altered the lyrics of his rap to “One Love” to delete criticism of the CIA. What we need now in America is renewed hope and transparency, not self-censorship. There’s a lot of buzz about Obama’s speech on Tuesday and I am thrilled to be able to see, hear and feel it in person.

It’s also exciting to be on the scene here. Black people are definitely expressing themselves whether it’s through Obama clothes, hats, pins, jewelry, music, food or otherwise. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings.

More tomorrow, y’all!

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