today in black history

May 27, 2024

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, founded by the Quakers, established in 1837, is the oldest historically Black college.

Black Leaders @ DNC

POSTED: September 07, 2012, 12:00 am

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Rep. James Clyburn, South Carolina

Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy accepted our party's nomination saying, "We are not here to curse the darkness; we are here to light a candle." This is the fundamental difference between the party of President Obama and the party of Romney-Ryan. President Obama has lit candle after candle, bringing our country out from the darkness of recession, only to see Republicans douse the flames and amuse themselves cursing the darkness. The Romney-Ryan Republicans, however, have walked away from bi-partisan efforts to find responsible approaches to moving this country forward, bringing only more darkness.

The architect of the Republicans' backward blueprint is none other than their vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. The Romney-Ryan plan will cut taxes for the wealthiest one percent, end the guarantee of Medicare and seek to balance the budget on the backs of hard-working Americans.

When too many of our senior citizens were living their golden years in the darkness of economic insecurity, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt and a Democratic Congress created Social Security, lighting a candle while the Republicans cursed the darkness. When too many of our elderly found their lives darkened by unaffordable and inaccessible healthcare, Lyndon Johnson and a Democratic Congress lit the candles of Medicare and Medicaid while Republicans stood on the sidelines and cursed the darkness. When the economy of our country languished in uncertainty, William Jefferson Clinton and a Democratic Congress lit the candles that illuminated the pathway to prosperity, reducing the deficit and creating over 20 million jobs. And we did so with—that's right—every congressional Republican cursing the darkness.

When President Obama was sworn into office, our economy was losing over 700,000 jobs per month. Affordable quality care for all Americans was an unfulfilled, century-old pursuit. Bin Laden was plotting attacks while our troops were bogged down in Iraq.

So President Obama went to work lighting candles. He promised to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Done! He promised to end the war in Iraq. Done! He promised to make membership in Al-Qaeda a high-risk occupation and begin winding down the war in Afghanistan. Done!

And he championed a veterans job corps to put our returning heroes back to work.
President Obama's actions saved jobs throughout the automobile industry; 1.1 million jobs overall. Now, Ford and Chrysler are making record profits again and General Motors is back to number one. And President Obama's courage made affordable, accessible, quality health care a right, not a privilege. We should not run from the term Obamacare. I am glad Obama cares. Because Obama cares, children born with diabetes can no longer be denied coverage on their parents' insurance policies. People with catastrophic illnesses can no longer be dropped from coverage when they get sick. Families will no longer have their benefits capped.

Romans 13, verse 12 tells us: "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." Let us go from this place, lighting candles all across this great country and re-elect President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden so they can continue moving our country forward into the light.

Rep. Mel Watt, North Carolina

Let me start by welcoming you to the 12th Congressional District of North Carolina and to Charlotte, the little country town that I was born and raised in and that grew up with me into the great city that has hosted you this week.

Growing up here, I learned some simple values: Help your neighbors. Respect your elders. Honor your commitments.

Today Barack Obama is carrying those exact same values forward as president of the United States.

This election is about standing up for those values. It's about fighting for what we believe in.

So let's get out there! Call your friends! Knock on doors! Let's re-elect Barack Obama!

Hon. G.K. Butterfield, North Carolina

We all know the road to recovery hasn't been easy. Republicans have thrown up every roadblock conceivable.

So this fall, we need to send them a message: Stop playing games with our future.

When we re-elect President Obama, it won't just be a victory for Democrats but a victory for the entire middle class. Because we'll put a jobs bill on the table—and pass it. We'll demand a balanced approach to deficit reduction that requires millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes and do their part.

The choice couldn't be clearer. Go home, roll up your sleeves, register voters, and make sure that every vote in your community is cast for our Democratic team.

Let's keep North Carolina blue—and President Obama in the White House!

Rep. Donna Edwards, Maryland

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.

Rep. John Lewis, Georgia

I first came to this city in 1961, the year Barack Obama was born. I was one of the 13 original "Freedom Riders." We were on a bus ride from Washington to New Orleans trying to test a recent Supreme Court ruling that banned racial discrimination on buses crossing state lines and in the stations that served them. Here in Charlotte, a young African-American rider got off the bus and tried to get a shoe shine in a so-called white waiting room. He was arrested and taken to jail.

On that same day, we continued on to Rock Hill, South Carolina, about 25 miles. From here, when my seatmate, Albert Bigelow, and I tried to enter a white waiting room, we were met by an angry mob that beat us and left us lying in a pool of blood. Some police officers came up and asked us whether we wanted to press charges. We said, "No, we come in peace, love and nonviolence." We said our struggle was not against individuals, but against unjust laws and customs. Our goal was true freedom for every American.

Since then, America has made a lot of progress. We are a different society than we were in 1961. And in 2008, we showed the world the true promise of America when we elected President Barack Obama. A few years ago, a man from Rock Hill, inspired by President Obama's election, decided to come forward. He came to my office in Washington and said, "I am one of the people who beat you. I want to apologize. Will you forgive me?" I said, "I accept your apology." He started crying. He gave me a hug. I hugged him back, and we both started crying. This man and I don't want to go back; we want to move forward.

Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward? My dear friends, your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union. Not too long ago, people stood in unmovable lines. They had to pass a so-called literacy test, pay a poll tax. On one occasion, a man was asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. On another occasion, one was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar—all to keep them from casting their ballots.

Today it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting. They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote. The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state's new voter ID law is "gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state." That's not right. That's not fair. That's not just.

And similar efforts have been made in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. I've seen this before. I've lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.

And we have come too far together to ever turn back. So we must not be silent. We must stand up, speak up and speak out. We must march to the polls like never before. We must come together and exercise our sacred right. And together, on November 6, we will re-elect the man who will lead America forward: President Barack Obama.

Hon. Harvey Gantt, former mayor of Charlotte

Good evening, fellow Democrats!

Since we were together in 2008, we have lost some of our leaders and our friends.

First, one of Charlotte's own, Susan Burgess. Susan spent three decades in community and public service, on the school board and the city council. She served on the Democratic National Committee and helped lead Charlotte's effort to bring this convention here tonight.

She fought for what she believed in, and she fought her own battle with cancer. Sadly, she did not get the chance to see this convention convene. But I know she'd be very proud, and she is with us in spirit.

This brief film will highlight many other leaders who have passed in the last four years. Their work and their ideals inspire us every day. Tonight, we salute their contributions.

Hon. Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia

I'm honored to serve as mayor of my hometown where our founders started America with three simple words: "We, the people." And when they said "people," they didn't mean "corporations."

I'm most honored to be the father of Christian and Olivia, and a proud parent of a public school student.

My wife, Lisa, and I know Olivia's education is central to everything she, and everyone in my city, wants to achieve. In Philadelphia, our public safety, poverty reduction, health and economic development all start with education. We can't grow the middle class if we don't give our kids the tools they need to innovate and invent.

But first we have to invest in them. That's what President Obama did, saving 400,000 educators' jobs and giving states the flexibility to shape their schools.

Mitt Romney doesn't get it. He recently visited a school in west Philly and told teachers he knows more than they do about what works for their students. He said class size doesn't matter. Doesn't matter? If our teachers can't give our children the attention they need, that doesn't matter? If our students spend the day on their feet, or the floor, because there aren't enough desks in a crowded classroom, that doesn't matter?

To Mitt Romney, education is a luxury. As governor, he vetoed universal pre-K. In his first year, K-12 schools saw drastic cuts that led to teacher layoffs. He failed his students.

What has he learned from this? All the wrong lessons: His budget would mean fewer teachers and bigger class sizes. It'd mean fewer Pell grants, costing our country millions of college graduates. And he wants big banks back in the student loan business. And just ask him about affording college, like one high-schooler did in Ohio: Romney's answer? "Shop around."

Here are some wiser words from a great Philadelphian, Ben Franklin. He said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Sounds like Mitt Romney could stand to learn a thing or two about investing! Our economy grows from the middle out, not the top down.

We're all in this together. I learned that lesson growing up in West Philly. When I shoveled the sidewalk my parents didn't let me stop with our house. They told me to keep shoveling all the way to the corner. I had a responsibility to my community.

That's what being a mayor is about. We take care of our own. We keep our neighbors safe, clear the snow from their streets, and educate their kids. We get stuff done. For Barack Obama, that's what being president is all about. He knows coming together as a nation starts by coming together as neighbors. That's why, after graduating, Barack Obama went to a Chicago neighborhood to help jobless workers in the shadow of a closed-down steel mill.

After Mitt Romney graduated, he became a corporate buy-out specialist who closed down steel mills. Whose values do you want in the Oval Office? I know who Philly wants, who Pennsylvania wants, who you want.

I know who the middle class needs: President Barack Obama!

Kerry Washington, Actress

I'm so grateful to be here with all of you tonight!

I'm here not just as an actress but as a woman, an African-American, a granddaughter of Ellis Island immigrants, a person who could not have afforded college without the help of student loans and as one of millions of volunteers working to re-elect President Obama!

So many struggled so that all of us could have a voice in this great democracy and live up to the first three words of our constitution: We the people. I love that phrase so much. Throughout our country's history, we've expanded the meaning of that phrase to include more and more of us. That's what it means to move forward. And that's what this election is all about.

Look, I get it. Whether it's school, work, family, we've all got a lot on our minds. People say to me, "I'm just too busy to think about politics." But here's the thing: You may not be thinking about politics, but politics is thinking about you.

Today there are people trying take away rights that our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers fought for: our right to vote, our right to choose, affordable quality education, equal pay, access to health care. We the people can't let that happen.

Tonight, even as this convention is coming to a close, a movement is being built across our country. The other side wants to take away our voice and render us invisible. But we are not invisible.
In more than 5,000 homes, friends and neighbors have gathered for online watch parties. They are committed to this campaign. Together we will re-elect President Obama.

None of us can be silent. We need all of you in this network, and we will win this election, because we are the people.

Hon. Kamala Harris, Attorney General, State of California

On behalf of the great state of California, I thank you for the honor and the privilege to be here. Let's get right down to business.

We are here because we love our country, and we firmly believe in the American ideal that our country should work for everyone. That ideal is written into our laws, the rules of the road that create a level playing field in this country. Those are the rules I became attorney general to uphold. And those are the rules Mitt Romney would have us roll back.

He would roll back the rules that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. Roll back the rules that protect the health and safety of women and families. Roll back the rules that prevent the kind of recklessness that got our economy into this mess in the first place.

Well, we've all seen what happens when you roll back those rules. What happens are rows of foreclosure signs. What happens are mountains of family debt. What happens is a middle class that's hurting. That's what we've seen in towns across California and across this country.

When it comes to the housing crisis, the choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is clear. The fact is, we don't have to guess what Mitt Romney would have done if he were president. Because he told us. He said we should let foreclosures—and I quote—"hit the bottom" so the market could—quote—"run its course."

Run its course. That's not leadership. Doing nothing while the middle class is hurting. That's not leadership. Loose regulations and lax enforcement. That's not leadership. That's abandoning our middle class.

Here's what President Obama did: President Obama won Wall Street reform to prevent any more taxpayer-funded bailouts. President Obama won credit card reform so you don't get stuck with hidden fees and sudden rate hikes. President Obama stood with me and 48 other attorneys general in taking on the banks and winning $25 billion for struggling homeowners.

That's leadership! That's what President Obama did. And that's why we need to give him another four years. We need to move forward. President Obama will fight for working families. He will fight to level the economic playing field and fight to give every American the same fair shot my family had.

I remember when my mother, Shyamala Harris, bought our first home. I was thirteen. She was so proud, and my sister and I were so excited. Millions of Americans know that feeling of walking through the front door of their own home for the first time—the feeling of reaching for opportunity and finding it.

That's the choice in this election. It's a choice between an America where opportunity is open to everyone, where everyone plays by the same set of rules, or a philosophy that tilts the playing field to help the wealthiest few. A choice between holding Wall Street accountable or letting it write its own rules. Mitt Romney subscribes to the cynical logic that says the American dream belongs to some of us, but not all of us.

Well, I'll tell you whom the American dream belongs to. It belongs to the student in Sacramento who doesn't have much money but who goes to bed each night dreaming big dreams. It belongs to the men and women across this country who know it shouldn't be against the law to marry the person you love.

It belongs to the immigrants, young and old, who come to this country in search of a better life. And it belongs to little girls who have the joy of watching their mother, like I did, buy her first home.

The American dream belongs to all of us. And if we can work together and stand together and vote together on November 6 for President Barack Obama, that's a dream we will put within reach of all our people!

Rep. Karen Bass, California

I stand before you today as a proud member of the Congressional Black Caucus and former speaker of the California state assembly. Forty-seven years ago, in the face of opposition from those who said states should have the right to discriminate, America passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

People of all races, religions, and backgrounds joined together and fought for that law because every one of us deserves a fair shake and a fair chance at achieving our version of the American dream. The right to vote gives us the power to take our future into our own hands.

We must use that power today, so that we do not lose it tomorrow. Today, one of the darkest shadows of the past century is creeping into this one: one of our most basic rights—the right to vote, a right that we fought for and won—is under attack.

Throughout the union, governors and legislators have proposed or passed laws to make it more difficult for individuals to cast their ballots. We must build and be part of a nation where "justice" isn't just a catch phrase, but embodies the equality and fairness that our nation's founders envisioned.

More than 41 years ago, when the Congressional Black Caucus was founded, that was our charge, and it still is—a vote and a voice in choosing our leaders, passing our laws and setting the course for our nation. And for the future we seek, a future of greater opportunity for all of us, we stand with President Obama in setting that path forward.

Rep. Al Green, Texas

America, it is up to us, right now, to make the decision on the type of country we will have. Either we move forward towards securing an economic future built to last with a strong middle class at its core, or we revert to a place where America's promise is only fulfilled for a select few.

In the 60's, we marched because it was the right thing for our country, and it made us stronger. Fortified by our faith, we helped our country overcome obstacles once thought to be insurmountable—in our nation's laws, and our countrymen's hearts. Once again, this is our time to uphold justice. It's our time to protect the rights we've won, and it's our time to stand up for the country we love.

Our faith tells us we have a moral obligation to better our communities, to accept responsibility and care for each other. But these values are not just unique to believers, they are American values, and this is the American way.

America, it is up to us.

Hon. Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts

Good evening, Democrats! Are you fired up? Are you ready to go? I hope so.

This is the election of a lifetime. Because more than any one candidate or policy, what's at stake is the American dream. That dream—the ability to imagine a better way for ourselves and our families and then reach for it—is central to who we are and what we stand for as a nation. Whether that dream endures for another generation depends on you and me. It depends on who leads us, too.

In Massachusetts, we know Mitt Romney. By the time he left office, Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job creation—during better economic times—and household income in our state was declining. He cut education deeper than anywhere else in America. Roads and bridges were crumbling. Business taxes were up, and business confidence was down. Our clean energy potential was stalled. And we had a structural budget deficit. Mitt Romney talks a lot about all the things he's fixed. I can tell you that Massachusetts wasn't one of them. He's a fine fellow and a great salesman, but as governor he was more interested in having the job than doing it.

When I came to office, we set out on a different course: investing in ourselves and our future. And today Massachusetts leads the nation in economic competitiveness, student achievement, health care coverage, life sciences and biotech, energy efficiency and veterans' services. Today, with the help of the Obama administration, we are rebuilding our roads and bridges and expanding broadband access. Today we're out of the deficit hole Mr. Romney left, and we've achieved the highest bond rating in our history. Today—with labor at the table—we've made the reforms in our pension and benefits systems, our schools, our transportation system and more that Mr. Romney only talked about. And today in Massachusetts, you can also marry whomever you love. We have much more still to do. But we are on a better track because we placed our faith not in trickle-down fantasies and divisive rhetoric but in our values and common sense.

The same choice faces the nation today. All that today's Republicans are saying is that if we just shrink government, cut taxes, crush unions and wait, all will be well. Never mind that those are the very policies that got us into recession to begin with! Never mind that not one of the governors who preached that gospel in Tampa last week has the results to show for it. But we Democrats owe America more than a strong argument for what we are against. We need to be just as strong about what we are for.

The question is: What do we believe? We believe in an economy that grows opportunity out to the middle class and the marginalized, not just up to the well connected. We believe that freedom means keeping government out of our most private affairs, including out of a woman's decision whether to keep an unwanted pregnancy and everybody's decision about whom to marry. We believe that we owe the next generation a better country than we found and that every American has a stake in that. We believe that in times like these we should turn to each other, not on each other. We believe that government has a role to play, not in solving every problem in everybody's life but in helping people help themselves to the American dream. That's what Democrats believe.

If we want to win elections in November and keep our country moving forward, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, it's time for Democrats to stiffen our backbone and stand up for what we believe. Quit waiting for pundits or polls or super PACs to tell us who the next president or senator or congressman is going to be. We're Americans.

We shape our own future. Let's start by standing up for President Barack Obama.

This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. This is the president who brought Osama bin Laden to justice, who ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who ended "don't ask, don't tell" so that love of country, not love of another, determines fitness for military service. Who made equal pay for equal work the law of the land. This is the president who saved the American auto industry from extinction, the American financial industry from self-destruction, and the American economy from depression. Who added over 4.5 million private sector jobs in the last two-plus years, more jobs than George W. Bush added in eight.

The list of accomplishments is long, impressive and barely told—even more so when you consider that congressional Republicans have made obstruction itself the centerpiece of their governing strategy. With a record and a vision like that, I will not stand by and let him be bullied out of office—and neither should you, and neither should you and neither should you.

What's at stake is real. The Orchard Gardens Elementary School in Boston was in trouble. Its record was poor, its spirit was broken, and its reputation was a wreck. No matter how bad things were in other urban schools in the city, people would say, "At least we're not Orchard Gardens." Today, thanks to a host of new tools, many enacted with the help of the Obama administration, Orchard Gardens is turning itself around. Teaching standards and accountabilities are higher. The school day is longer and filled with experiential learning, art, exercise and music.

The head of pediatric psychology from a local hospital comes to consult with faculty and parents on the toughest personal situations in students' home lives. Attendance is up, thanks to a mentoring initiative. In less than a year, Orchard Gardens went from one of the worst schools in the district to one of the best in the state. The whole school community is engaged and proud.

So am I. At the end of my visit a year and a half ago, the first grade—led by a veteran teacher—gathered to recite Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech. When I started to applaud, the teacher said, "not yet." Then she began to ask those six- and seven-year-olds questions: "What does 'creed' mean?" "What does 'nullification' mean?" "Where is Stone Mountain?" And as the hands shot up, I realized that she had taught the children not just to memorize that speech but to understand it.

Today's Republicans and their nominee for president tell us that those first-graders are on their own—on their own to deal with their poverty; with ill-prepared young parents, maybe who speak English as a second language; with an underfunded school; with neighborhood crime and blight; with no access to nutritious food and no place for their mom to cash a paycheck; with a job market that needs skills they don't have; with no way to pay for college.

But those Orchard Gardens kids should not be left on their own. Those children are America's children, too, yours and mine. And among them are the future scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, engineers, laborers and civic leaders we desperately need. For this country to rise, they must rise—and they and their cause must have a champion in the White House.

That champion is Barack Obama. That cause is the American dream. Let's fight for that. Let's canvass and phone bank and get out the vote for that. Let's go tell everyone we meet that, when the American dream is at stake, you want Barack Obama in charge.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States.

Rep. Barbara Lee, California

I am so pleased I had a role in drafting this remarkable document. It embodies the values we hold dear as Democrats and as Americans, and it sets forth our great president's vision for our future where together we will reignite the American Dream for all. Because the reality is: Four years ago, the American Dream had slipped out of reach for too many, and it had turned into a nightmare for millions.

President Obama changed our course. He invested in our future and put men and women back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges. He raised educational standards, invested in early childhood education, and worked to make higher education more affordable for everyone. He invested in clean energy and enacted the broadest tax cut in history, reducing taxes on the middle class to near-historic lows. He saved the American auto industry. He produced historic health reform. And he put forward a balanced deficit reduction plan that will put us on sound fiscal footing. Today, our economy is growing again.

Our platform states that America faces a clear choice: move forward as a nation where everyone has the chance to get ahead, or go back to the same failed ideas that created the crisis in the first place. We will move forward, not backward. Republicans will raise taxes on low-income and the middle class to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. They'll end the fundamental guarantee of Medicare that people have earned. They'll let Wall Street write its own rules again. They'll allow the secret and unlimited special interest money in campaigns to advance its dangerous assault on our democracy. They'll shred the safety net and gut vital investments in education, innovation and infrastructure in order to help the wealthiest avoid doing their fair share. And they'll allow insurance companies to once again deny health care to working families and interfere with women's health care decisions.

President Obama and Democrats will not let this happen. We will move forward, not backward. We believe we are bound together by a shared set of ideals and values rooted in the notion that together we can overcome the greatest challenges that come our way. We stand for an economy that's built not from the top down but from the middle out and that provides opportunity for those aspiring to join the middle class. And we make ending poverty a national priority.

We are a big tent party of inclusion, and our platform speaks to the aspirations of all. Our platform ensures that the opportunity to live the American Dream not only survives but thrives for generations to come.

We can't afford to go back or abandon the change we've fought so hard for. We will not turn back the clock.

We can move forward. We must move forward. And under the leadership of President Obama, we will move forward.

Thank you.

Hon. Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey

Our platform, crafted by Democrats, is not about partisanship but pragmatism; not about left or right, but about moving America and our economy forward. Our platform—and our president—stand firm in the conviction that America must continue to out-build, out-innovate and out-educate the world.

This platform is a clear choice between economic pathways: forward or back, inclusion or exclusion, grow together as a nation or be a country of savage disparities that favor the fortunate few over the greatest driving force of any economy—a large and robust middle class.

We choose forward. We choose inclusion. We choose growing together. We choose American economic might and muscle, standing strong on the bedrock of the American ideal: a strong, empowered and ever-growing middle class. Our platform emphasizes that a vibrant, free and fair market is essential to economic growth.

We also must pull from our highest ideals of justice and protect against those ills that destabilized our economy—like predatory lending, over-leveraged financial institutions and the unchecked avarice of the past that trumped fairness and common sense. Our platform calls for significant cuts in federal spending. Our platform calls for a balanced deficit reduction plan where the wealthy pay their fair share.

And when your country is in a costly war, with our soldiers sacrificing abroad and our nation facing a debt crisis at home, being asked to pay your fair share isn't class warfare—it's patriotism. But we all know—it's common sense—that for an economy built to last we must invest in what will fuel us for generations to come. This is our history—from the Transcontinental Railroad to the Hoover Dam, to the dredging of our ports and building of our most historic bridges—our American ancestors prioritized growth and investment in our nation's infrastructure.

And today our businesses, industries, entrepreneurs and economy realize a return on those investments. Let us not fall prey to rhetoric that seeks to gut investment and starve our nation of critical, common-sense building for our future. And investment must include the real engine of job growth in America: the American small business.

That is why I'm proud that our president has made a profound difference for people and businesses in Newark, New Jersey and our nation by cutting taxes for 100 percent of working families and giving small businesses 18 different tax cuts.

For President Obama, "home of the brave" are not just the last words of our national anthem, but also a call to action. This is why the president's policies and our platform include incentives to train and hire our troops returning home. Not only because of our moral responsibility, but because it makes for a stronger, more secure American economy.

But investing in people doesn't stop with our troops. Our platform and our president make it clear that the most critical investment we can make in a 21st-century, knowledge-based economy is education. Our president has already doubled Pell grants, raised education standards, invested in research and development at our universities and early childhood education in our neighborhoods. Our platform and our president state it clearly: our nation cannot continue to be the world's number one economy if we aren't committed to being the world's number one educator.

Our platform and our president are not interested in petty political arguments. Instead, this platform of big and practical ideas sets forth an emboldened pathway toward the historic hope which has driven generations of Americans forward—it is our most fundamental national aspiration—that no matter who you are, no matter what your color, creed, how you choose to pray or who you choose to love, that if you are an American—first generation or fifth—one who is willing to work hard, play by the rules and apply your God-given talents—that you should be able to find a job that pays the bills.

You should be able to afford health care for your family. You should be able to retire with dignity and respect.

And you should be able to give your children the kind of education that allows them to dream even bigger, go even farther and accomplish even more than you could ever imagine.

This is our platform. This is our American mission. These are the dreams of our fathers and mothers. This is the demand from the next generation, who call to our conscience in a chorus of conviction, in classrooms from north to south, from sea to shining sea, when they proudly proclaim with those sacred words from our most profound pledge, that we are a nation with liberty and justice for all.

And this November, with the re-election of President Barack Obama, this generation of Americans will ever expand upon the hope, the truth and the promise of America.

Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased to move for the adoption of the 2012 Democratic National Platform.

Hon. Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte

Welcome to the 2012 Democratic National Convention! Our city is a hub of energy and commerce, a place where business and government work together and make things happen. And in this election, we are the city where Americans have come together to move our country forward and make great things possible. We have always been that kind of city.

Nearly half a century ago, when cities throughout the South struggled to desegregate schools, Charlotteans came together. Around kitchen tables, black and white families met and decided together to break down the barriers that had so long divided their children. And because they did, they gave a generation of kids a chance to go to school together, to learn together, and to recognize that no wall is too high or too strong to be broken down, if we do it together.

I was one of those children. I learned what it truly meant to be judged by the content of one's character. I was born to a single mom and raised by her and my grandparents. They taught me to take pride in hard work, to take responsibility for my actions, and to understand that education could expand my mind and transform my life. From West Charlotte High School to Davidson College, where I was the first black student body president; from NYU Law School to practicing law in the public and private sectors; from the Charlotte City Council to becoming Charlotte's first Democratic mayor in 22 years to this stage tonight, I live by the values my family and what this community taught me.

And you know what? I have seen President Obama at work, and these are his values, too. This is a man who pulled our economy back from the brink. This is a president who plans to give every child an opportunity to succeed. This is a leader who believes all Americans should have a fair shot to go as far their talents can take them.

So Charlotte, North Carolina, America, when this convention ends on Thursday, our work does not. Over the next 62 days—from this night until election night—we will come together, as we have so many times before. We will knock on doors and register voters. We will stand up for a leader who will move this country forward.

And together, we will re-elect President Barack Obama.

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