Four years after the Rev. Joseph Lowery stood before the world and gave the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration in Washington, the civil rights leader was in Augusta, explaining why he’d like to do so again.
Lowery said he has watched the Republican Party evolve into one of lies and limbo, of one wrapped up in the hatred of racism and one resistant to help the whole of the people.
“If Obama was white, there would be no question on who was going to win,” Lowery said.
More than 200 people gathered at the Henry Brigham Center on Thursday for the Richmond County Democratic Party’s Get Out the Vote Rally for Democratic candidates. Though they attended to celebrate their Democratic platform, many said the real honor was to get the chance to hear a civil rights icon speak.
“This here is history in the making,” said Lori A. Myles, an English teacher at T.W. Josey Comprehensive High School. “We have an opportunity to be able to see the path that has not only been drawn, but also to re-create it.”
As Lowery, 91, spoke, he didn’t hold back what he saw to be true about race or politics.
His statements were blunt and met with laughter and cheers from the audience, who sat at tables with streamers and dined on fried chicken, baked beans and potato salad.
He said that he didn’t want to see the Democratic Party become “an all-black party” but that divisiveness in politics is making it so.
He cited the homosexual marriage debate as being a distraction made by Republicans that has divided voters and made Democrats leave the party.
Because more women show up at the polls than men, he urged women to make sure the men in their lives made it to vote. Local elections are even more important than the presidential race, he said.
“We’re not just here to talk about the presidential election,” Lowery said. “You got to elect these local candidates. You may never get to see Obama except on television. But you’re going to see these.”
Several of those local candidates riled up the audience before Lowery took to the lectern.
Sheriff candidate Richard Roundtree, who was escorted to the lectern to refrain of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff, said voters should get excited about a new Augusta. He said that Augusta’s dynamics are on the verge of change but that voters have to push it.
“We have a chance to be a part of something great,” Rountree said. He said every voter has a chance to say, “I was there when Augusta took back the government. I was there when we ran the good old boys out of town.”
Democratic candidates, from district attorney to probate judge, went to the microphone with cheers from the audience, and all pushed voters to choose Democratic candidates for the 2012 elections.
Four Georgia Democratic delegates, such as Franklin Williams, who was dressed in a rhinestone-studded shirt and a straw hat covered in Obama buttons, spoke of the pride they felt to nominate Obama at the Democratic National Convention this year.
“Obama four more years!” he yelled. “We can get Obama re-elected ... yes we can!”
Lowell Greenbaum, the chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party, said it has always been important to vote, but even more so today for what is at stake. He said he worried about Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s intentions for women and the middle class and said Obama will work for the whole nation.
“There’s an energy that a crowd brings and a message that we’ve got to get out,” he said. “Democrats have a majority in Richmond County, and if all the Democrats go out and vote, we win.”