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Civil rights activist and Black Lives Matter member DeRay Mckesson shares a moment at the National Democratic Party Convention with Rachael Ledbetter of Columbia. Courtesy photo

Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination to be its presidential candidate officially starting Thursday night in Philadelphia where she declared “America will be greater than ever” as it works together.

Listening in the convention hall were two young Tennessee Democrats. London Lamar, 25, of Memphis, and Rachael Ledbetter, 22, of Columbia; both inspired by their candidate and both attending their first political party convention.

Lamar saw unity in the party this week, so “we can all move together on the same page and beat Donald Trump,” a theme Clinton carried through her acceptance speech that, while utilitarian to cover all the bases, was punchy and made her Republican opponent the punchline.

During his convention, the GOP nominee, “spoke for 70 odd minutes, and I do mean odd…” said Clinton, who seeks collaboration to achieve goals, in contrast to Trump’s egotistical declaration that he alone can solve the nations problems.

Clinton spoke to several reasons Lamar supports her party’s platform.

“It’s not right that Donald Trump can ignore his debts and students can’t refinance theirs,” said Clinton, referring to the Republican’s bankruptcies that left contractors and tradesmen unpaid when real estate deals feel through, and the Democrat’s platform to change college tuition loans.

Lamar wants students to be able to finish college and qualify for a mortgage, instead of being limited by student loans.

Ledbetter “really liked Michelle Obama’s speech” earlier this week, because “it made me feel like things really are changing for people in the world. It was a lot like Hillary’s speech” March 17 at Charles Robert Bone’s Nashville home where “…she made me feel like I can do anything I want.”

Ledbetter likes Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine.

“He’s more moderate than Hillary,” Ledbetter said. “I think that was a good choice … because … some more moderate, conservative people sometimes couldn’t relate [to Clinton] and he will help with that” so conservative Democrats “would feel more comfortable about voting for Hillary.”

Tennessee Young Democrats President London Lamar and Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini get their heads together at the National Democratic Convention. Courtesy photo
Tennessee Young Democrats President London Lamar and Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini get their heads together at the National Democratic Convention. Courtesy photo

Lamar is a statewide, at-large convention delegate because she chairs the Tennessee Young Democrats and therefore is an ex-officio member of the state Democratic Executive Committee. Lamar is a Memphis organizer for Stand For Children, which was started by Marian Wright Edelman’s son, Jonah. Because of that, Lamar identifies with Clinton who in New Bedford, Mass., worked for the Children’s Defense Fund, founded in 1973 by Marian Wright Edelman.

Lamar wants to serve in an an elected office to help people and is inspired by Clinton’s early work for health care reform as delivered by President Obama.

“My Dad has Obamacare and he’s had cancer, so because of Obamacare … he’s been able to get treatment and now he’s cancer-free,” said Lamar, an advocate “for women’s rights and reproductive health and being an advocate for Planned Parenthood. Me and all my friends have used Planned Parenthood. We need those services.”

Clinton “is going to be able to protect this country from anybody in the world as a great commander-in-chief over the military,” Lamar said. “Nobody is more qualified right now.”

The presidential nominee’s mother was abandoned as a child. At age 14, Clinton’s mother was fed lunch by her teacher who brought extra food to school so she could share with that student who eventually married a Navy man. The nominee’s father later ran his own silk screen business.

“With your help, I will bring all your stories to the White House,” Clinton said during her televised convention speech. “America thrives when the middle class thrives…

“When there are no ceilings, the sky is the limit,” she said, promising to “create more jobs with rising wages” and prevent corporations from getting government benefits when they hand out pink slips.

Lamar and Ledbetter are excited to see Clinton become the first woman nominated to run for president. They want her as president and feel obliged to do something to make it so.

Ledbetter is interested in social change because “I’ve been given a platform and I want to use it to help other people… I’ve personally grown up with a lot of privileges and I want to be able to use them to make things better for people in America.’

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville is quoted by The (Nashville) Tennessean as hearing Republican friends say they’re “fed up” with Trump, so Clinton might win in Tennessee as her husband did in 1992 and 1996.

Lamar anticipates Tennessee remaining a red state this year, but says if Clinton wins the presidency, she might win in Tennessee during the 2020 election.

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Clint Confehr
About Clint Confehr 223 Articles
Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area began in the summer of 1980. Clint's covered news in several Southern states at newspapers, radio stations and one TV station. Married since 1982, he's a grandfather and is semi-retired from daily news work.