NASHVILLE – The events that took place on Tuesday, November 6th 2012 or Election Day is an experience I will never forget. Now merely stating that I voted or President Obama won would not give my day any justice. This election I took an approach that many students wish they had. After my classes were over for the day, I walked over to the Hadley Park Community Center to vote for the very first time. Having the ability to have my voice heard felt so empowering and overdue since my 18th birthday fell a few days after the 2008 election. After voting I contacted my fellow classmate, Valencia Bins, to get a camera from the equipment room so we could begin covering the rest of the events of Election Day.
Valencia came and picked me up around 3 p.m. and we began our journey to record the events that lead up to and after President Obama’s re-election. Our first stop was back over to Hadley Park to get interviews from voters and volunteers at the site. When we arrived we saw a small elderly white lady holding an “Obama/Biden 2012” sign that she or her grandson both made. At first glance we knew we had to interview her. Her name was Mrs. Ruthann Getz, and she was showing support for the president. She was determined to stay as long as possible and even brought her grandson along who was coloring in the car. After talking to her, Valencia and I found out that the parents of her grandson were both professors at Tennessee State University. She was also showed delight in seeing TSU student coming out to vote.
Following our interview with Mrs. Getz, we went inside the community center to get more b-role and interviews. After getting permission from the community center staff we began getting more footage. We spoke next with Mrs. Areatha Richard, who was apart of the Davidson County Election Commission. We discussed how voting was going throughout the day. She expressed that the heavy push for early voting lead to smaller lines at the voting site this year. That day was running smoothly at the site with a few problems occurring with voters not being properly registered.
The search then began for us to find a first time voted before we headed back to campus to cover more news. We were able to get a few words from TSU student, Diane Ortiz after she voted. Diane was a native of Puerto Rico and was not a stranger to the polls (since Puerto Rican can vote in our elections in the states). Yet this was Diane’s first time voting in the United States. She discussed the difference in voting in Nashville and her hometown. She said that the biggest difference is in the usage of technology. She wish that Puerto Rico used more up-to-date voting practices.
Valencia and I got word that a kick-off march was about to start back on campus at 3:30 p.m. so we loaded up our equipment and head back to campus. After seeing about 10 to 15 students (mostly in the student government association) headed over to Wilson Hall (the freshman woman’s residence hall) we waited to see if the exiting party was worth covering – and it wasn’t. He then drown to the other side of campus to see if the party would gather steam as it reached the upperclassman dorms but it did not. We then both agreed to meet up around 8:15 p.m. to cover the election watch party that TSU’s SGA was hosting in the student center.
We arrived at the watch party around 8:25 p.m. and student crowd was growing by the minute. In the student center forum was where the live election results were being aired on CNN which had about 80 or more students in the room. Outside the room in the student center lounge area had a completely different environment. The student count was triple that of that of the forum due to a live DJ and food provided by SGA. The projections came out state-by-state on CNN, it was not difficult to hear which candidate the audience swung towards. When President Obama was up, they cheered and when it was Governor Romney they booed. The crowd roared when CNN projected that President Obama won the state of California and made winning margins in the battleground states of Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado.
The ultimate climax of excitement came when CNN announced that President Obama had been re-elected. The whole student center broke out into an explosion of joy and relief that all their headwork and voting was not in vain. At that moment, I began running around student center catching different angles of the celebration.
Even with all the mayhem in the student center, ee were able to get an interview with David Rawles. David – who is currently serving as the TSU SGA President – expressed his excitement that the Obama campaign prevailed even with all the attempts to suppress votes (especially the African American vote). Valencia then began packing our equipment because students were preparing to march over to Fisk University (another Historically Black University a mile away from the TSU campus) just as they did in 2008 when President Obama won then.
Before the march began, TSU took to the streets in front of the campus center by the airplane to express their excitement of the election results. The crowd of 40 students quickly amassed to over 100 in a matter of minutes. As the march began, we hopped back into Valencia’s jeep were we went further down Jefferson Street to catch the crowd on their journey to Fisk. When the crowd had reached us, it was clearly over 200-hundred students in full force headed to Fisk University where they were being expected by a mass of Fiskites already celebrating.
When the TSU students arrived, the two student bodies merged outside the Fisk University Student Center where a DJ was playing music. The energy of the atmosphere was experience many students will remember for the rest of their lives. After partaking in the excitement and recording more b-role, Valencia and I pack our equipment up for the final time for the evening and went inside the student center to hear the President’s victory speech with TSU and Fisk students alike.
When the speech had concluded, the party outside was at an end and students went their separate ways. Many of the students either scavenged for rides back to campus of walk the way from which they came after a night of anxiety that ended in excitement. Returning with a sense of accomplishment in having a part in a process that was greater than them. As for Valencia and myself, we were exhausted from the 12 plus hours of coverage, but we walked away with a great story and footage to show our fellow classmates.