Watch parties attract nominee#8217;s supporters

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

SOUTH POINT — It’s taken Henry Fletcher more than 30 years to get to this point.

So when the image of Sen. Barack Obama came on the television screen Thursday night the one-time pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church and local civil rights activist watched with rapt attention.

“It makes me feel good,” Fletcher said about seeing the first African-American accept the Democratic nomination for president of the United States to tens of thousands of cheering fans. “I can’t describe the feeling. At last something is accomplished that I have wanted and prayed for all of my life.”

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Fletcher was among about 100 at the South Point Park shelter Thursday night as part of three Obama watch parties across Lawrence County from Proctorville to South Point to Ironton as the Democrats wrapped up their week-long national convention in Denver.

Kelly Whyte of Proctorville played informal hostess to a small group of Obama supporters at Ohio University Proctorville Center. For the past six months, she has campaigned for the Illinois senator.

“We have a lot of people coming out in the area to support him. We have a lot of volunteers,” Whyte said. “We have a good ground game.”

Joining her in the campaign trenches is 72-year-old Doris Boster, also of Proctorville, who admires Obama for his message.

“He has a good family and went through a lot of adversity,” Boster said. “He has a lot of good ideas. A lot of my ideals he seems to have.”

Minutes before Obama walked to the platform at Invesco Field in Denver, the crowd at South Point, cheered on by Graham Veysey, Lawrence County’s Obama campaign rep, lined up for a group photo.

“Are you fired up,” Veysey cried out to the supporters, who responded with “O-bam-a”…. “O-bam-a” … “O-bam-a.”

Then Veysey encouraged the group to sign up for door-to-door canvassing or hosting house parties to push the Democrats’ choice.

“It’s going to take knocking on doors and having people over to your house,” he said.

In the midst of Invesco Field was Barbara Ward, the county’s only delegate to the convention.

“We were actually on the floor,” Ward said by phone early Friday morning. “We could look right at Obama when he was doing his speech. It was absolutely awesome to be in the middle of all that excitement. Just a fantastic experience.”

Fletcher, watching all this from the sidelines at the South Point Park, said he believes Obama has a good chance to take the presidency in November.

“His head is filled with wisdom,” Fletcher said.

Then as he waited for Obama to take center stage, Fletcher said:

“I’ve lived to see this day. Win or lose. We tried.”