CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—Barack Obama’s support across lines of race, age and background has surprised some here. Not those at Karen and John
Price’s home in the Quail Hollow Estates on Election Day. Since November
1, friends and strangers have arrived, gotten their assignments and
headed out to knock on doors or hook reminders on front knobs.
Karen, 44, a stay-at-home mom of two, and John, 45, an Internet
technology architect and registered Republican, signed on as campaign
volunteers in August. Karen Price says Obama’s stand on the issues
made sense to her, especially his views on income disparity. Trickle-down theory?
“It never trickles down,” she says. She grew up in the small North Carolina town
of Pilot Mountain and once campaigned for Ronald Reagan. Working for
Obama is, she says, “her atonement.”
Jamila Freelain of Pineville, North Carolina, an administrator at the Art
Institute of Charlotte, and Patricia Ryan, who works in human
resources at Bank of America, didn’t know each until they were paired
as a canvassing team at the Price home. Freelain moved to Charlotte a
year ago from Chicago. She met Obama when both were members of Trinity
Church, whose congregation and former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, have been unfairly attacked, she believes.
The church and Obama share qualities that drew her to both: concern
for young people, progressive views on women’s rights and a reputation
for fighting for what’s right “for the least of these,” she says. They
are “inclusive of everybody.” She met Obama briefly there; he signed
one of his books.
Ryan, whose voice retains the lilt of the Trinidad and Tobago home she
left 28 years ago, has lived in Phoenix and even voted for McCain once.
“I’m a registered Independent and voted for Republicans lots of times,” she said.
“I’m not voting for anybody because he’s Black.” But she “fell off a cliff”
for Obama. She admires “the considered way” he responds to questions.
“I want somebody way smarter than me in the White House.”
To Branden Cook, 13, Obama is Superman, as his T-shirt attests. He came
through the Price home with his mother, Terrilynn Cook, 34, (wearing a
“Mamas Adore Obama 2008” shirt, continuing the family theme). “I
wanted to make sure I did my part in helping him get elected, to set
an example for my son,” Terrilynn Cook said. Obama “is the perfect
role model for a young Black man.” The single mom, who works in human
resources, said that universal health care and education relief were
the most important issues for her.
Branden, who participated in Kid’s Voting at his middle school, said
he had no doubt that Obama would be the next president. The Cooks, who
together watched Obama’s speech announcing his candidacy, were headed
home after canvassing, to watch the results on television along with the rest of us.
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