The 11th Annual National Action Network (NAN) Convention, hosted by its president Reverend Al Sharpton, took place April 1-4 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York City. In between a bevy of panels, an award gala, luncheons, and special events was a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, who came to address a packed banquet hall on Friday, April 4. ESSENCE.com was right on hand to experience the impact the Vice President had on the mostly African American filled room who welcomed him with rousing applause and several standing ovations.
It must have felt like déjà vu for the former Senator who first came to speak at the NAN Convention in 2007 during the Presidential election. Now, two-years later he's back but with a much different agenda, speaking very directly about the issues that are on everyone's minds--unemployment, the dropout rate, and the rising cost of healthcare.
Mr. Biden spoke for about 45 minutes, giving what sounded more like an impassioned sermon than a speech. He believes the success of the Obama era, however long that may be, will be measured on whether or not they can pull the middle class and poor Americans out of the mire created from the past administration and offer real opportunities to do better. Biden believes they've already started to see a difference, just 65 days in as the Senate just approved President Obama's $3.5 billion budget.
"This is the time when we have an opportunity not merely to lift us out of a recession but to change the game," said the Vice president. "We're here to make sure every American has a chance for a better life."
Biden acknowledged that while the proposals he and the President have made may seem overwhelming and vast, they are by no means empty promises. But, they can't do it by themselves. The Vice President reminded the enthralled room of NAN delegates and visitors that the only way to change lives across the board is to work together using the government's short term solutions to help us all make long term decisions.
Still, Mr. Biden ended his speech with one message-hope. He knows it's not going to be easy, but as many people continue to support President Obama and his administration, he realizes that "this is probably the best shot we've had in a long time."