Local Obama volunteer Ralph Walker called this morning, like he’s done so many times throughout this long presidential campaign, asking me “what’s the word?”
“Historical. Change. Amazing,” I uttered.
“I’ve heard that. Tell me something new.”
I said: “Hope in a difficult time.”
Walker, who lives in Covina but is a fixture in Monrovia both on his KGEM talk show and at the Obama for President table during the Monrovia Family Festival on Friday nights, started talking about Obama’s army. The dedicated volunteers who mobilized on the ground for the candidate was an efficient, unstoppable force. As Obama said during his acceptance speech, they did a phenomenal job.
“It’ll be interesting to me to see how Obama will be tapping into that electric current … it is a standing army. Now that they’ve achieved their goal, they are waiting for what’s next,” he said.
Walker, who is African American, has been an Obama volunteer for 18 months. He began by putting an item in this newspaper (and on this blog) about a meeting in “the little green shack” in Monrovia’s Library Park. Six people showed up that first Sunday and the multi-racial and multi-ethnic group of Obama volunteers grew from there.
Since then, they’ve registered more than 2,000 people to vote. Walker said he spent endless hours phone banking and knocking on doors. Some of the responses he received included “Why don’t you go back to Africa,” he said.
“In my younger days, I would’ve punched someone in the mouth. But not this time,” he said. Instead, he endured racist remarks with the hope that this day would come. And on Tuesday, it did. America elected a black man as president.
“I’m still overwhelmed by it. I am still like pinch me,” he said. “What can we equate this to? Jackie Robinson? This is different. This isn’t baseball. This is the president of the United States.”
While it still sinks in for the Valley’s African Americans and other people of color, and white people as well, the question for the Obama volunteers is what should they do next?
Ralph will be back at his Obama table Friday night at the Monrovia festival. “I guess I just want to look at the faces,” he said.