Rallying for Obama

At 11 a.m. last Thursday, Brandon Levin ‘09 was standing in a line with 5,000 other diehard fans, patiently waiting for the gates to open at 1 p.m.

The line-up for the show included performances by Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, will.i.am,. John Legend, Michael McDonald and Jennifer Hudson. But the 84,000 men, women and children that would eventually pack INVESCO field didn’t come thousands upon thousands of miles to see any of these types of celebrities.

This was the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and everyone here came to see Sen. Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination for president of the United States of America.

It all started on Aug. 24 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Col., with a speech by Michelle Obama.

Nestled in among the crowd of ex-presidents, senators, and thousands of delegates sat at least 11 Harvard-Westlake students and alums.

Sam Teller ’04, Brandon Levin ’09, Tessa Wick ’09, Maddy Sprung-Keyser ’09, Ben Sprung-Keyser ’11, Aiden Brewster ’10, and Hannah Rosenberg ’11, Sammy McGowen ’07, Sam Alper ’07 attended the DNC and witnessed everything from Bill Clinton’s speech on Wednesday to conga lines weaving through the crowd before Obama’s remarks on Thursday.

“It’s been unbelievable – you can’t even imagine the intensity in that room, everyone’s been going crazy,” Wick said. “I came to the DNC this year because I wanted to see history happening in front of me, and I definitely have.”

One of Levin’s favorite speeches was delivered by former President Clinton.

And although excitement was a major factor for the attendees, the most memorable moments didn’t always come from times of complete certainty.

“Before the speech, I was scared he wouldn’t advocate unity as much as he needed to or say what needed to be said — but he really did,” Levin said.

As head prefects, Wick and Levin said they were particularly influenced by the leadership qualities Obama demonstrates.

“Nobody’s a better example of a fantastic leader than Barack Obama. It’s amazing to even be in his presence. When he walked on the stage, people around me started crying,” Wick said.

“Barack has given me, and hopefully most of the kids at school too, the sense that we can change things for the better. He revolutionized politics and made it more about the belief and hope that people can change,” Levin said.

Alumna Jessica Yellin ’89 covered the convention for CNN and Brian Goldsmith ’00 is a producer for CBS news and will attend both conventions.