by Matt Houston (citizen journalist)
I am here at my first Democratic National Convention; not as a delegate, not as a political figure or speaker, but as a young professional who wants to meet new people and make an impact in his community. A little background on my initial views of politics:
Growing up, I used to HATE politics; I did not understand it, I did not relate to it, and I felt politics was counter-productive in regard to building my community and helping the people I care about. As I matured (earned a college degree, pursue my professional career, and became active in volunteer organizations), I noticed how important it is to know what’s going on locally, at the state level, and on Capitol Hill, even if I didn’t like it.
My purpose for coming to Charlotte was to open my mind about politics in general and meet people from whom I can learn. Being a part of the Urban League, I can’t endorse one political party over another, and as a person, I have both liberal and conservative views.
I’m blown away at the people I’ve seen here at the DNC. I’ve seen people from I know from television walking casually in Charlotte, met and spoke to a state senator and nationally known minister in the middle of the street and had a very candid, personable conversation with both of them, and attended a concert where music legends are in the crowd enjoying the artists performing as much as everyone else. I didn’t expect this much excitement at a convention; I thought we would be in the conference center listening to speeches all day.
Also, the events are amazing; from the outdoor festival, where thousands of people crowded the streets of downtown Charlotte to enjoy food, games, and concerts, to the workshops and discussions about how communities of color are capitalizing on the technology economy, even cable networks filming shows on location (CNN, Comedy Central, etc.). There are also receptions throughout the day, where organizations and specialty groups can converse, network, and educate others of their mission and how they can expand their influence.
The DNC is an event where people are interacting with one another to seek out answers and provide solutions. It’s a reciprocal environment where I’m learning from someone and teaching others what I do in Dallas to improve my neighborhood. We are learning from each other, sharpening our tools so we can go back and impact our sphere of influence.
This year, I made an effort to stay current on various issues politically; both conservative and liberal, Republican and Democratic. It’s been very interesting, to say the least. So coming in Charlotte, I was expecting to regurgitate my political knowledge to be relevant with everyone else in the city (that’s what a political convention is, right?). I did not expect what I’m experiencing now. This convention is not about politics, but about people.
Matt Houston is Executive Director/External Affairs at Group Excellence (www.groupexcellence.org). Matt is also President of the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals (www.ulgdyp.org). To contact him, email email@example.com or go to www.mrmatthouston.com.