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Democrats Hold Unprecedented Virtual Convention From Milwaukee

Source: Pool / Getty

Whether intentional or not, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) has been steadily revealing over its first two nights that there are far more Black people included with speaking roles and otherwise getting valuable TV time to spread the Party’s message than organizers originally suggested.

And it’s for good measure, too, since Black voter participation fell in the 2016 election compared to the historic levels in which they cast ballots for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. It’s a simple math equation: If more Black people vote Democratic, chances of Joe Biden beating Donald Trump increase exponentially. With the inclusion of a growing number of Black folks, the DNC is surely counting on that to be true.

The DNC’s first incarnation of its official convention schedule only listed 11 Black people, including musical performers, to be featured in the week’s programming. Alongside that scant docket of Black folks were names like Michael Bloomberg — who is infamous for his support of the racist stop-and-frisk policing practice — adding insult to the metaphorical injury sustained at first glance of what seemed to be a diversity-challenged convention schedule.

But since the convention kicked off Monday night, viewers have been treated to a veritable parade of African Americans taking the virtual stage, both renowned in addition to everyday citizens, making their cases for why Biden deserves to be the next president of the United States. Some of those names have included distinguished leaders like Colin Powell and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser as well as Gwen Carr (Eric Garner‘s mother) and the family of George Floyd.

Originally, the DNC’s schedule was conspicuously missing names such as Stacey Abrams, someone who has consistently been both described as a rising star in the Democratic Party and was long rumored to have been courted by Biden to be his vice-presidential running mate. Her apparent inexplicable exclusion came across like a snub of sorts.

When NewsOne reached out last week for comment from Abrams’ anti-voter suppression organization, Fair Fight,  it referred all questions about her DNC role to Biden’s campaign. But Biden’s campaign never responded to NewsOne — until Tuesday night, when Abrams helped open up the convention’s second night with an impassioned keynote address standing by Biden and urging Americans to vote for him. She used her speech in part to bring attention to the disproportionate effect that the collision of multiple factors has especially had on Black lives in 2020.

“America faces a triple threat: a public health catastrophe, an economic collapse, and a reckoning with racial justice and inequality,” Abrams said. “So our choice is clear: a steady, experienced public servant who can lead us out of this crisis just like he’s done before, or a man who only knows how to deny and distract; a leader who cares about our families or a president who only cares about himself.”

Her words, as well as her inclusion at the DNC, probably elicited a collective sigh among those who quickly spoke out last week after it appeared that Abrams would not be speaking at the convention.

Abrams was not alone in having the distinction of being a Black person featured at the DNC who was not included in the initial schedule of speakers at this year’s Democratic National Convention. The revelation of more Black people than expected in the first two nights of the DNC suggests that organizers are far from finished on that front.

Of course, this year’s Democratic National Convention has been anything but conventional. And that could explain why DNC organizers released such an anemic list of speakers when it came to Black people featured, perhaps trying to pique viewers’ curiosity and increase viewership.

To be sure, there are still more people that NewsOne expects to be included, such as budding activist LeBron James, established agitator Colin Kaepernick and the founders of the Movement for Black Lives (to name a few). With that said, it’s clear the DNC has made an intentional effort at presenting an image of racial inclusion at a time in the nation’s history when circumstances suggest otherwise.

Keep reading to find some of the Blackest moments at this year’s Democratic National Convention.

This article will be updated as the Democratic National Convention progresses.

This Could Be The Blackest Democratic National Convention Ever  was originally published on newsone.com

1. Day 2: Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes wears Air Jordans

Day 2: Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes wears Air Jordans Source:Getty

The DNC was supposed to take place in Milwaukee before the coronavirus pandemic forced it online because of social distancing guidelines. Perhaps it was because or in spite of that fact that Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes delivered his keynote address Tuesday night while wearing a very clean pair of Air Jordan sneakers. That part may not have been seen by people watching him speak online, but photographers at the Wisconsin Convention Center snapped photos of Barnes walking to the podium in a pair of Jordans, which is a tradition of sorts for the Dairy State’s first Black lieutenant governor.

What’s Blacker than wearing Jordans to the Democratic National Convention? Barnes is also a graduate of Alabama A&M University, a historically Black college (HBCU).

2. U.S. Virgin Islands delegates

U.S. Virgin Islands delegates Source:Getty

Yes, the DNC and Biden made sure to include voices and representation from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where local Democratic State Chair Cecil Benjamin was joined Tuesday night by other Virgin Islands delegates to help nominate Joe Biden to be the Democratic nominee for president.

3. Louisiana’s delegates

Louisiana's delegates Source:Getty

Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond was joined by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell Tuesday night to announce pledged delegates for Joe Biden to be the Democratic presidential nominee. Cantrel is the first Black woman elected mayor of The Big Easy.

4. Colin Powell

Colin Powell Source:Getty

Colin Powell, the first Black person ever to be U.S. Secretary of State,  was one of a growing number of Republicans who spoke at the DNC in support of Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. Tuesday night was the most recent instance of him pledging to vote for Joe Biden, meaning, like in 2016, he again will not cast a ballot for Donald Trump.

5. New York Times security guard Jacquelyn Asbie

New York Times security guard Jacquelyn Asbie Source:YouTube

Jacquelyn Brittany, a guard at the New York Times building whose chance encounter with Joe Biden in an elevator went viral, nabbed some precious speaking time Tuesday night at the DNC and doubled down on her “love” for the Democratic nominee.

Biden snapped a selfie of the two of them in a New York Times elevator after she told him, “I love you.” The photo quickly went viral. Fast forward nine months later and Brittany was the first person Tuesday night to nominate Biden for president.

6. Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross Source:Getty

Actress and activist Tracee Ellis Ross facilitated the second night of the DNC and offered some memorable talking points, including this gem:

“As a Black woman, I find myself at a crucial intersection in American politics. For far too long, Black female leadership … has been utilized without being acknowledged or valued, but we are turning the tide. Hello, Kamala,” she said.

7. South Carolina Senate candidate Jamie Harrison

South Carolina Senate candidate Jamie Harrison Source:Getty

South Carolina Senate candidate Jamie Harrison Tuesday night announced his state’s delegates from the historically Black campus of South Carolina State University.

“This proud HBCU has contributed 22 general officers to our Armed Services,” he said.

8. North Carolina delegates

North Carolina delegates Source:Getty

Longtime Democratic activist Cozzie Watkins announced the North Carolina delegates during the virtual convention Tuesday night.

“I’ve been doing this a long time so let me just be plain,” she said. “Black people, especially Black women are the backbone of this party … and if we don’t show up Democrats don’t get elected.”

9. New York delegates

New York delegates Source:Getty

Registered nurse Scheena Iyande Tannis, an immigrant who said she was worried about her own children’s health despite working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, announced the New York delegates during the virtual convention Tuesday night.

10. Rep. Terri Sewell

Rep. Terri Sewell Source:Getty

Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell delivered her DNC address in front of what will likely soon be renamed as The John Lewis Bridge in Selma. 

11. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester Source:Getty

Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, one of the Black folks who were originally scheduled to speak at the DNC, used her speech to underscore the historical importance of the 2020 election.

“In some history class in the future, children are learning about this moment … our grief, our worry,” she said. “But they’re also learning about a man named Joe Biden, about how he restored decency to our government and integrity to our democracy.”

12. Barack Obama

Barack Obama Source:Getty

In a throwback, the DNC on Tuesday night played a video showing former President Barack Obama addressing the 2004 Democratic National Convention. That speech served as a springboard for what eventually became his historic presidential bid to become the first Black commander in chief of America.

13. Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams Source:Getty

Just when it appeared that Stacey Abrams might be left out of the Democratic National Convention, organizers handed her a keynote speech slot that she used in part to bring attention to the disproportionate effect that the collision of multiple factors has especially had on Black lives in 2020.

“America faces a triple threat: a public health catastrophe, an economic collapse, and a reckoning with racial justice and inequality,” Abrams said. “So our choice is clear: a steady, experienced public servant who can lead us out of this crisis just like he’s done before, or a man who only knows how to deny and distract; a leader who cares about our families or a president who only cares about himself.”

14. Day 1: Rep. Bennie Thompson

Day 1: Rep. Bennie Thompson Source:Getty

Democratic Convention Chairman and Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson officially closes out the first night of the virtual convention on August 17, 2020. 

15. Marley Dias

Marley Dias, a 15-year-old “literary activist” clad in a Kente cloth stole, used her DNC speaking time on Monday night to promote the joys of reading.

16. Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama Source:Getty

Four years after Melania Trump plagiarized Michelle Obama, the former first lady borrowed some of Donald Trump‘s own words to underscore his disastrous failures during her Democratic National Convention speech.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said Monday during the opening night of the DNC, adding that he’s had plenty of time to get it right.

“He is clearly in over his head. He simply cannot be who we need him to be,” she added before delivering her own “Obama out” mic-drop moment: “It is what it is.”

17. Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond

Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond Source:Getty

Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond won the unofficial award for the best backdrop of the DNC’s opening night by speaking in front of a mural that spelled out the word “love” and included an image of Coretta Scott King. Richmond is also an HBCU graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. also graduated from.

18. Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris Source:Getty

Kamala Harris, the presumptive Democratic nominee for vice president, addressed the Democratic National Convention during its opening night Monday in a video recorded montage that served as a prelude of sorts to her scheduled speech Wednesday night when she will formally accept the Party’s nomination.

Biden announced last week that he had chosen the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate to be his running mate.

19. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Source:Getty

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered her DNC speech at her city’s Black Lives Matter Plaza, where several streets are emblazoned with the social justice group’s name. Bowser said Trump would further try to militarize the nation’s cities if people didn’t vote for Biden.

“He sent troops and camouflage into our streets. He sent tear gas into the air, and federal helicopters, too,” Bowser said Monday night about Trump. “I knew if he did this to D.C., he would do it to your city or your town. And that’s when I said, ‘Enough.’”

 

from addresses the virtual convention on August 17, 2020. The convention, which was once expected to draw 50,000 people to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is now taking place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by DNCC via Getty Images) photography,people,one person,horizontal,usa,headshot,smiling,politics,washington dc,wisconsin,election,democracy,speech,political rally,milwaukee – wisconsin,democratic party – usa,politics and government,democratic national convention,live broadcast,infectious disease,video still,muriel bowser,live streaming,covid-19,pandemic – illness,virtual event,democratic national convention 2020

20. Democrats Hold Unprecedented Virtual Convention From Milwaukee

Democrats Hold Unprecedented Virtual Convention From Milwaukee Source:Getty

George Floyd‘s brothers, Rodney Floyd (left) and Philonise Floyd, delivered an unexpected address during the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in an effort to both bring attention to the police violence that claimed their loved one as well as to make sure victims’ names are remembered.

Philonise Floyd said his brother “should be alive today” and that “it’s up to us to carry on the fight for justice. Our actions will be their legacies. We must always find ourselves in what John Lewis called ‘good trouble.’ For the names we do not know, the faces we will never see.”

21. Rep. James Clyburn

Rep. James Clyburn Source:Getty

South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, who once reportedly dubbed Biden an “honorary Black man,” spoke about the apparent racial reckoning taking place and juxtaposed that with his state’s history of slavery as well as the Charleston Church shooting in 2015.

Using that as context, Clyburn said America must elect Biden.

“Much like the country as a whole, we are stepping out from the shadows of our past and beginning to lay the groundwork for a more just future,” Clyburn said. “It won’t be easy. We can only succeed if we move forward together. So we will need a president who sees unifying people as a requirement of the job.”

22. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr Source:Getty

The opening night of the DNC featured a video conference call between Joe Biden and (from left) Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson along with Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr

23. Rep. Gwen Moore

Rep. Gwen Moore Source:Getty

Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore delivered a fiery speech to open up the Democratic National Convention on Monday night and gave a special shout out to the first Black woman vice-presidential candidate on a major Party’s ticket.

“What better way to gather than all across America to nominate my beloved friend Joe Biden to be the 46th president of the United States of America, with my VIP VP nominee sista Kamala Harris by his side?” Moore asked rhetorically Monday night.

24. Billy Porter

Billy Porter Source:Getty

Singer and actor Billy Porter performed a rendition of the protest song, “For What It’s Worth,” which was originally recorded by music group Buffalo Springfield. Images of Black Lives Matter protests flashed in the background as Porter performed alongside guitarist Stephen Stills, who wrote the song.

25. Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges Source:Getty

On the opening night of the DNC, Soul singer Leon Bridges performed his new single “Sweeter,” to honor George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

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