Speakers Make History, Stir Emotions at Close of DNC

South Carolina delegates Harold Mitchell, left, Gilda Cobb-Hunter and Charles Brave hold on to each other during a prayer on the final day of the Democratic National Convention. Photo by Pankaj Khadka/BUNS
Written by Jonathan Gang
Wisconsin delegates hold on to their popular cheeseheads during the opening prayer on the last day of DNC. Photo by Pankaj Khadka/BUNS

Wisconsin delegates hold on to their popular cheeseheads during the opening prayer on the last day of DNC. Photo by Pankaj Khadka/BUNS

By Jonathan Gang
BU News Service

Hillary Clinton may have been the big draw as the Democratic National Convention drew to a close on Thursday Night at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Arena, but several other speeches from a diverse cast primed the crowd for her historic acceptance speech.

The evening’s most emotional response was afforded to Khzir M. Khan, whose son, Captain Humayun Khan, was one of the 14 Muslims killed while serving in the American military since September 11, 2001. Humayun was killed in Iraq in 2004 by an improvised explosive device. Khan praised Clinton for acknowledging his son’s sacrifice and criticized her opponent Donald Trump for his harsh rhetoric toward the Muslim community.

“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America,” he said. “If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.”

Khan went on to directly challenge Trump’s personal investment in the military.

“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?,” he asked. “Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

In another historic milestone for the evening, Sarah McBride became the first transgender person to address the convention of a major American political party. McBride delivered a brief speech that focused on Clinton’s commitment to LGBT rights.

“Today in America, LGBTQ people are targeted by hate that lives in both laws and hearts,” she said. “Many still struggle just to get by. But I believe tomorrow can be different. Tomorrow, we can be respected and protected — especially if Hillary Clinton is our president. And that’s why I’m proud to say that I’m with Her.”

Speaking to Clinton’s foreign policy and national security prowess was Ret. General John Allen, a four-star Marine Corps General and former Deputy Commander of US Central Command.

“With [Clinton] as our Commander-in-Chief, America will continue to lead in this volatile world,” he said. “We will oppose and resist tyranny as we defeat evil. America will defeat ISIS and protect the homeland. America will honor our treaty obligations. We will lead and strengthen NATO, the Atlantic Alliance, and our allies in East Asia and around the world whom we have solemnly sworn to defend.”

Allen also had harsh words for Donald Trump, criticizing his controversial comments about bringing back some forms of torture and killing the families of terrorists.

“I know that with [Clinton] as our Commander-in-Chief, our international relations will not be reduced to a business transaction,” he said. “Our armed forces will not become an instrument of torture, and they will not be ordered to engage in murder or carry out other illegal activities.”

Besides the candidate herself, the night’s loudest cheers were drawn by the president of North Carolina’s chapter of NAACP, Reverend William Barber. Speaking in the trademark passionate tones of a Southern African-American preacher, Barber gave a rousing speech that championed progressive values while calling for for unity in a divisive campaign season.

“We must shock this nation with the power of love,” he said” “We must shock this nation with the power of mercy. We must shock this nation and fight for justice for all. We can’t give up on the heart of our democracy, not now, not ever!”

He went on to emphasize that supporting Clinton was the best way to realize these goals. “When I hear Hillary’s voice and her positions,” he said, “I hear and I know that she is working to embrace our deepest moral values and we should embrace her.”

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