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A diverse collection of around 200 Brooklynites packed into Moe’s Bar in Fort Greene Thursday night to witness a historic moment: Barack Obama’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president.
The event was organized by Brooklyn for Barack, a grassroots, all-volunteer campaign effort that, for now, is only loosely affiliated with that central operation (although organizers believe this will change with the recent hiring of a New York State campaign coordinator).
According to organizers, the Fort Greene bar (80 Lafayette Avenue) was chosen for its central location. Indeed, Brooklynites far and wide began to descend on the bar as 10:00 p.m. – the scheduled approximate time for the speech – approached. By the time Illinois Senator Richard Durbin stepped to the podium to introduce his colleague, the packed bar – filled mostly by people in their 20s and 30s – had assumed an anticipatory hush.
“Personally, I don’t feel nervous,” insisted Park Slope resident Amanda Thompkins, 30, one of the event organizers, who thus far said Brooklyn for Barack had focused on voter registration. “I see it as more of a celebration.”
Both Thompkins and with co-organizer Amanda Green, a Fort Greene resident, said they had supported Obama since the primaries because of his steadfast opposition to the war in Iraq.
Derek Smith, a Clinton Hill resident in his twenties, said his allegiance shifted towards Obama during the primaries after what he felt were vicious and racially charged attacks by the Clinton campaign.
When asked why he had gone to Moe’s to watch the speech, Smith replied: “Because it’s a historic event. I want to suck up this moment, so it only makes sense to watch with other people.”
Selena Rhine, a 29-year-old Fort Greene resident, cited “his energy, his style. It doesn’t feel like he’s lying to you. That only comes along every once in a while. He’s going to do something amazing tonight.”
As he took the stage to begin his speech, Obama was given a standing ovation by the crowd at Moe’s, all of whom turned their eyes toward the projector screen in the back of the bar. From that point, all conversation ceased in deference to the man of the hour.
The audience remained rapt throughout the speech, respectfully silent save for clapping at the applause lines and laughing at Obama’s early-speech digs at McCain and his fellow Republicans (the “Eight is Enough” reference went over particularly well with the young crowd.)
When it was over, the speech was met by rave reviews by the denizens of Moe’s.
“He came, he saw, he conquered,” said an excited Keith Bradford, 34, of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“I like that he was very direct in his criticism of McCain,” said Eyal Rabinovitch, 37, of Sunset Park. “He was firm too, like, ‘You’re not gonna push me around.’”
Many praised the campaign’s unprecedented decision to stage the speech at an outdoor venue.
“It was impressive and moving. It really reflected the magnitude of the moment,” said Jonathan Kirk, 32, of Prospect Heights.
Others were glad to have witnessed the moment with their like-minded Brooklynites at Moe’s.
“It really made it very powerful,” said Tiffany Shelton, 22, of Coney Island. “It shows that it’s not just black people or white people – so many people want change. People understand what needs to happen with this country.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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