The following is a copy of a speech, as prepared for delivery, by The Honorable Donna Edwards, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Maryland, at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, September 6, 2012.
I was born in Yanceyville, North Carolina. My grandparents were farmers and West Virginia coal miners. I grew up as a military brat. I know what it's like to be a single mom. And that's why I'm proud to support President Barack Obama: because he's fighting for people like me. I come from a military family—six kids. My dad served three decades in the Air Force. My mom was right behind him and us. So the president and first lady's commitment to our service people, veterans and their families—it's personal for me.
Let me tell you my American story. Growing up on military bases, I learned most families were just like mine, no matter what their backgrounds. I went to a lot of different schools in many different places. I had great teachers who loved learning and great parents who made me do my homework. I'm a first-generation graduate from Wake Forest University. My parents paid for my education on a patchwork of grants, loans and savings. It's the same way we financed my son's college education 25 years later. The same way middle-class parents do it everywhere.
Education is the key to a strong middle class and a successful future. And that's why I support President Obama: because he made the single largest investment in higher education ever. Now, after graduating college, I struggled as a single mom with a toddler. I was working every day just to pay the bills. But I didn't have health insurance. Then, after days with what I thought was a cold, I ended up in the emergency room with pneumonia. The hospital bills were overwhelming. As a result, I almost lost my home to foreclosure. On many days, I found myself at the local food bank.
I support President Barack Obama because he gets it. He knows that no one should end up in an emergency room, facing financial ruin and the loss of a middle class life, just because they can't afford a doctor's visit and 20 dollars of antibiotics. And President Obama changed that with the Affordable Care Act. Here's the bottom line: We have tremendous challenges ahead of us, but President Obama is solving them in a way that protects and helps families like mine. That's why I'm fighting for him, just like he's been fighting for us.