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2016 Democratic National Convention
(Photo courtesy: Polly Baca)

By Polly Baca

A more perfect city could not have been chosen to host the nomination by a major political party of the first woman candidate for President of the United States – Philadelphia, PA, the birthplace of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. What an amazing difference from my first National Democratic Convention.

The first convention that I attended was as a Young Citizen for Johnson in Atlantic City in 1964. The delegates to that convention were primarily white males. About one-third were white women. There were only a couple of African American delegates, one of whom was Colorado State Senator George Brown. The only Latino and Asian American delegates were from the islands: Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam. The big issue at this convention was the challenge by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to include blacks who had been prevented from participating in the Mississippi delegate selection process.

The challenges that emerged during the 1964 and 1968 National Democratic Conventions led to the convening of a special National Convention to write a Charter for the National Party in 1974 that developed a uniform method of electing delegates. Prior to 1974, there was no uniform method of electing delegates to the national conventions. For example, the Georgia governor appointed the Georgia delegates to national conventions. As a delegate to the 1974 Charter Convention, I supported language that required delegations to national conventions to reflect the Democratic demographics in each state. A few years later as a member of the DNC Executive Committee, I carried an amendment to the Charter for the DNC Womens Caucus that required equal division between men and women at all levels of the Party’s delegations.

Those changes in the way that Democrats elect their delegates to national conventions are reflected in this 2016 DNC Convention. Sitting in the Colorado delegation, I marveled at the diversity of the delegates throughout the convention hall. There are a significant number of delegates from every ethnic and racial group in our country as well as the LGBTQ community. In addition, half of the delegates are women. I’m proud that our Colorado delegation has an Hispanic gay male as our chair, Rick Palacio, an Asian American woman as the Bernie Sanders delegation co-chair, Joann Fujioka, and an African American male as the Hillary Clinton delegation co-chair, Hon. Wellington Webb. Wow, what a difference from 1964.

Over the past 52 years I have had the opportunity to attend every DNC Convention since 1964. This convention is the 14th National Democratic Presidential Nominating Convention that I am privileged to attend. There are two inspiring events that I will always remember. The first took place at the 1964 convention. The most moving event of that convention occurred on the last day when Bobby Kennedy addressed the delegates. Bobby had been asked by DNC Chair John Bailey to introduce a film about President John Kennedy. When Bobby was introduced there was an incredible applause that lasted for more than 20 minutes. It was such an emotional time that there wasn’t a dry eye in the hall, including Bobby who fought back tears.

The second was the nomination of the first African American as President of the United States at the 2008 DNC Convention in Denver. I was fortunate to have enough guest passes to take my children and grandchildren to watch as Senator Barack Obama accepted the nomination for President. Now I am looking forward to participating in the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton as she becomes the first woman to be nominated by a major political party for President of the United States.

I’m one fortunate American!





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