You won't find this diary anywhere, this is a Kos-only entry detailing some of the highlights during my experiences of the past week.
I'd never been before and had absolutely zero idea of what to expect from my first ever visit to a Baptist Church. As my cab pulled up, I figured would probably be the only white person in the congregation celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday at St. Stephen's Baptist Church in Kansas City. I suppose that's what you get for making assumptions, because by the time I left, I did so having witnessed a diverse crowd come together in prayer, song, and celebration without regard for the color of eachother's skin, but because of the content of their character and a message of unity.
It took, eh, maybe three minutes before I was on my feet clapping and singing, something else I didn't expect. I blame the man pictured below. He stepped right up to the microphone, thanked his mother and grandmother, and began signing. And when I say sing, I mean sing ... a sound you can tell was produced with the help of every last bone in his body.
Video: Opening Song of Service (.wmv)
I couldn't stop clapping. I arrived as a "reporter," and left feeling completely uplifted. I have probably watched that clip about 10 times since I uploaded it, and actually just did again.
A number of politicians and pastors gave speeches during the event, all of them talking about what Dr. Martin Luther King meant to them personally. The sermon, given by Dr. Myron McCoy lated about 45 minutes; by that time I made my way into the pews and took very few photos, and the entire time, barely a soul stood and made a move towards the exit. The theme of the evening was, "Unity in the Community."
Video: Governor Dean Talks About Dr. King
You can see more photos and video from the evening, including a tremendous introduction of Governor Dean by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri at this link. But don't go too fast, that was only one night...still two days to go.
Tuesday Morning: Democracy Bond Event in Kansas City
I woke up late that morning, at exactly 7:13 for an event that was twenty minutes away and started at 8:00 AM. I took one of those 3 minute showers I learned how to do while in the Marine Corps and was in my cab by 7:35.
About seventy-five Democrats gathered at the Uptown Theater for coffee, doughnuts, and a side of inspiration from Governor Dean at the first ever Democracy Bond-Holder meeting in Kansas City. The event lasted about an hour and a half, starting with local activists never connected before meeting and exchanging thoughts on national and community concerns. Governor Dean spoke for about 10 minutes, and then mingled personally with crowd before taking off.
Video: Governor Dean Addresses Democracy Bond Holders
It was at that event that I had an opportunity to meet ETinKC, a Daily Kos user and Katie, whose userID painfully escapes me at this time. I also had a chance to sit down and talk to two Democracy Bond holders, Justin and Chere.
Video: Democracy Bond Holder Justin - Dem Bonds & Red States
After the event, it was on to the Kansas City aiport for a trip to Columbus, with a layover in Milwaukee. If you want to read more about the Kansas City Democracy Bond meeting, click here -- or to meet another bond-holder, Chere, click here.
Tuesday Afternoon: A Small World
Who knew that an hour flight from Kansas City to Milwaukee before moving on to Columbus could be so interesting? I met a terrific young lady named Joan from Boston, who happened to volunteer for the 2004 Democratic Convention in her hometown. If I am not mistaken, she is fluent in Spanish and offered her services before and during the convention as a liaison to the delegates from Puerto Rico.
Which goes to show you, it's more than just phone banking and wearing out the shoe leather walking blocks dropping lit and meeting voters -- There are many ways to get involved and if you have a specific skill-set, that's something we need to be working to make the most of.
After I arrived in Columbus, I got to the hotel, made a few phone calls to bloggers I had invited to attend the next day's festivities, watched Countdown with Keith Olberman, and fell asleep.
Wednesday Morning: Honesty in Government
For me, it was my first trip back to Ohio since leaving my work with Sherrod Brown & Paul Hackett (awkward!). It felt good to be home, and I suspect before my time on earth is done, I'll be back for an extended stay again.
I arrived at the Ohio Capitol building a few minutes late (Thanks Pounder!), and was actually denied access through a side entrance into the Rotunda -- there were just entirely too many people and reporters crammed into the long, but narrow, hallway leading up to a stage erected earlier this morning. It would seem that a Columbus television news crew had the same problem, and we hustled around together, working our way to the front of the crowd just in time to hear Governor Dean discussing Democratic unity, both nationally and locally, when it comes to clearing corruption from capitol buildings across the country.
Video: Governor Dean on national Unity in the Democratic Party
This was also the first time I got to meet Chris Redfern, freshly minted Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. After brief speeches, Governor Dean and Chairman Redfern took questions from the press. One of the more entertaining portions of the Q&A was a reporter from Fox News asserting that Democrats in Ohio were tossed out of office years ago because of rampant corruption -- Chairman Redfern did a terrific job setting the reporter straight, while explaining that reapportionment took what is essentially a 50/50 state and gave it a dramatic red hue in the legislature. You can actually hear the reporter attempting to shout Chairman Redfern down in the clip:
Video: Chairman Redfern Answers Reporter's Question
As this event was taking place, thousands of Americans signed on to a petition demanding honest leadership in Ohio. Many Ohio legislators and statewide candidates did the same. Below is a high resolution photo (and I mean high res) of one such page of the petition individuals were signing in the Ohio State House.
Photo: Honest Government Petition (click to enlarge)
You can read more about the event here.
Wednesday Afternoon: Democracy Bond Event #2
After the event at the State House, myself and five Ohio bloggers (OH-2 Blog, Live From Dayton, Howard Empowered People, Buckeye Senate Blog, and Seven Cent Nickel) headed over to the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall.
About 100 people packed into the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall in Columbus, Ohio yesterday to hear from the two chairmen during the second ever Democracy Bondholders meeting. Regular Americans, bloggers, candidates, and elected officials came together fresh off a successful event at the Ohio State House.
Photo: A Packed House
Governor Howard Dean and freshly minted Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern have a whole lot in common. Both were recently elected to serve as chairman for their respective party organizations, and both believe in building the Democratic party, nationally and statewide, from the grassroots up. Chairman Redfern took the stage first and talked about the necessity to take the fight to each of Ohio's 88 counties.
After Chairman Redfern spoke, Governor Dean addressed the eager crowd and discussed the importance of the Democracy Bond program and how the DNC has placed organizers in each of the fifty states (the flip-side to the Democracy Bonds Program), along with a bit of information about those organizers.
Video: Governor Dean on Democracy Bonds & Organization
Once again, I had an opportunity to sit down and talk with several Democracy Bond holders.
Video: Jack Talks About Why He Invested in a Bond
The trip was fantastic, and I can't wait to do it again! Thanks to everyone who has commented on their enjoyment of the coverage, both here and on other blogs. If you haven't already, please consider investing in a Democracy Bond yourself. It's what makes the fifty state strategy, and trips like these where I can give you reports from the road, possible.