Alabamians at convention

Published 10:53 am Monday, August 25, 2008

Alabama delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Denver aren’t focused solely on politics. They have plenty of parties to attend and will also delve into their state’s history at events scheduled during the week.

The partying began Sunday with a brunch given by Alabama Power Co. to honor Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians gave a party for the Alabama delegation Sunday night, and other groups have scheduled parties throughout the week.

At the brunch at the Fort restaurant, delegates were focused on unifying behind presidential candidate Barack Obama.

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“This is the beginning of a great week and a new era for our country,” Folsom said. “We’re taking our economy back, we’re taking our military back, we’re taking America back. It all starts here this week, and we’ll do our part.”

Folsom noted that 60 years ago, his father, Gov. James E. “Big Jim” Folsom, was one of only two Democratic governors from the South who did not walk out of the 1948 Democratic convention following a call for equal treatment of all Americans, including black Americans.

“My father could not imagine a time when the party or America would nominate a black man for the highest office in the land. We’ve come a long way,” Folsom said.

State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who helped lead Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Alabama, said, “The important thing is to close ranks behind Obama and leave here energized and ready to win in November.”

Later in the week, the Alabama delegates will look at some Alabama history.

Former President Jimmy Carter is scheduled to address the Alabama delegation at a breakfast meeting Wednesday. Carter was the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Alabama. He did it in 1976. GOP candidates have carried Alabama since 1980.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., will speak to the Alabama delegates Thursday. Lewis, who grew up in Troy, Ala., was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Bloody Sunday in 1965. State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham noted that Lewis’ address will fall on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.