Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Obama Celebrates Birthday at SCLC event
Adrianne M. Murchison
If Barack Obama becomes President, plenty of Atlantans will likely recite their "remember when" story of how they celebrated with the then-senator on his 46th birthday.
"You know I had to work on my birthday," Obama told a crowd of 1,200-plus Saturday night at the Marriott Marquis. "When you're running for president, you don't get a day off."
To compensate, the crowd on hand for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's First Ladies Awards Celebration sang "Happy Birthday" during a standing ovation.
Obama was in town to speak at the event, which honored women in communications.
Folks dressed in formal suits and evening gowns mingled patiently outside the hotel's imperial ballroom in anticipation of his much-anticipated appearance.
The sitdown dinner started nearly an hour late but drew a crowd ranging from Mayor Shirley Franklin to many young children, perhaps there to collect material for their own "remember when" stories.
After opening remarks and a solo of "God Bless America" by opera singer Ernestine Dillard, Obama made his way to the stage.
The crowd enthusiastically responded to his motto for the night: "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."
And after months of traveling to campaign rallies across the country, the senator has noticed that American citizens are also sick and tired too, he said.
"The reason people are hungry for change is they are fed up with how the government won't even try to do something about the injustices," he said,
Obama compared the justice of Scooter Libby to Genarlow Wilson, the Atlantan currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for having consensual sex with a teenage girl. Obama compared what the average working citizen pays in taxes to Paris Hilton, who inherited her wealth.
Both times, he drew loud cheers.
Some on hand Saturday night said they supported the senator but remained curious to know more about his platform and the issues he represents.
"Jobs are dwindling and I want the troops out of Iraq," said Demeeka Mhoon, 29, an accountant who lives in Atlanta. "I want to know what he's actually going to do."
Robert Hatcher, a storage consultant for Hewlett-Packard, said he too is sick and tired of the status quo.
Like Mhoon, the Iraq war is top priority with him.
"I made a pledge that I'm not voting for anyone who voted for the war in Iraq," the Marietta resident said.
Every time he gets a paycheck, Hatcher said he sends the senator's campaign $100.
"I think a lot of people do that," Hatcher said. "He's the person that will do what's good for the country."