President Bill Clinton electrified the room from the moment he walked onto the stage accompanied by a disco beat and said, “In 1971, I met a girl…” He got a big laugh when he described her as having “blonde hair, big glasses, and no make-up.” He offered a touching and complex portrait of a lover and fighter about whom he had “the absolute conviction that my daughter had the best mother in the world.”
I was seated next to Laura Dawn, the Executive Director of Humanity for Hillary, who whispered to me after, “The thing that really resonated with me was the enduring strength of their marriage and partnership. I have been married for sixteen years, and anyone who’s been married that long knows that you’ll weather some storms together, some shitstorms quite frankly but most of them don’t play out on a global level. Bill Clinton really took us on this personal walk through their real life, and I just found it really moving. I felt like many people for the first time were able to let go of this cartoon villain they have created in their heads about her and finally had to consider her as a real woman.”
Earlier in the evening, Minnesota Senator Amy Kobluchar took a jab at the other presidential candidate and proclaimed the strength of women to sway the election this November. It’s not the woman card. “It’s called the voting card.” The actress and activist Erika Alexander said, “Hillary defies gravity.”
Over the weekend, I had spoken with one of my heroes, Charlotte Bunch, founder of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University. She wrote the book on women’s rights as human rights many years before Hillary Clinton popularized the phrase at the Women’s Conference in China, where I was a youth organizer on the steering committee of the NGO Forum.
Charlotte talked about how she’s known and observed Hillary for twenty-five years. She’s been in meetings with her, and what has always struck her is that Hillary listens. Hillary asks questions. She listens and learns. And she has learned SO much. Even after being attacked for all her twenty-five years in public life, she has not stopped working on behalf of others, women, children, minorities. Hillary is as she says a progressive who knows how to get things done.
Last night, after Bill Clinton, the probable First Husband had finished his speech, I took the subway along with others who realized that Uber’s special arrangement with the DNC did not mean you would actually get home. It was a quick underground ride to City Hall, and I stopped for a drink at the Ritz-Carlton. Dee Dee Myers, Bill Clinton’s former White House Press Secretary and the first woman ever to hold that position, was at the other end of the room. I met Alison Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State, who had waged a fierce battle in 2014 against Senator Mitch McConnell for his seat. She asked me where I’m from. I said, “Sri Lanka.” And she told me her sister-in-law is from there. That was unexpected. I also got to talk to CNN political commentator Sally Kohn who was there with my fellow ART NOT WAR producer Sarah Sophie Flicker. (Kohn is also in our video #ThisIsWhatMyRevolutionLooksLike.)
So many badass women like those mentioned above along with Debra Messing, America Ferrera, Lena Dunham, Meryl Streep, Elizabeth Banks, California Senator Barbara Boxer, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and most importantly mothers of seven tragically slain young black men and women — turned out on Day 2 to show their support. And the DNC lineup made a convincing case for the many reasons why.
One of our ART NOT WAR team, the filmmaker Helen Stickler, said that the programming was about making her “more human. A qualified human.” I guess that would make us Humanity for a Qualified Human!
Tanya Selvaratnam is an Emmy-nominated and Webby-winning producer, and the author of The Big Lie. She is at the DNC with ART NOT WAR working on projects for Emily’s List and Humanity for Hillary. tanyaturnsup.com