COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — The line outside of Gateway Center Arena snaked down the side of the building and into the adjacent parking lot Friday afternoon. Thousands of democratic supporters and interested parties waited hours to get into the arena in order to see and hear former United States President Barack Obama.
The 44th and first Black president in the history of this country was in town to stump on behalf of fellow democrats Stacey Abrams and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (Ga.). Both are currently in close gubernatorial and senate races and a boost from one of the most popular U.S. Presidents couldn’t hurt with another week of early voting remaining and Election Day, November 8, right around the corner.
Just over 1.2 million Georgians have already voted, a sign that enthusiasm for a midterm election is nearing the typical frenzy over a presidential election. The 1.2 million is a record for a midterm election early turnout.
Waiting in line for her turn to enter the arena, Mildred Fulmer told The Atlanta Voice she wouldn’t have missed an opportunity to see Obama in person no matter how long the wait. “That’s a good man and I followed him every year he was in office,” she said, leaning up against the black fences outside gateway Center Arena. “I have family so jealous that I’m here right now.” Fuller, a Locust Grove resident, was one of thousands that waited on a warm afternoon to see the former president. “I’m feeling so privileged to have seen one of our own in office.”
Marco Farrar of Kennesaw, made the drive south to see Obama. “I wanted to get the message, see what he had to say,” Farrar said. “Some things are worth the wait and it’s really just a small sacrifice.”
Democracy was what Jaye Blackman said she was in College Park for. A Powder Springs resident, Blackman, “like Black man,” she said, is one of the 1.2 million people that have already voted. “Democracy is my number one reason for being here,” she said. “I don’t care about November 8, I want to be in the number to show my support for the Democratic Party.”
Waiting with her sister, Rabia Abduljalil said she wanted to “See the people that she plans to vote for.” The pair waited on line in chairs they brought from home. “My number one, first and foremost reason for being here is to represent my party,” she said. Both she and her sister are Democrats.
Maryum Abduljalil added, “Just hearing some intelligent political conversation would be refreshing.”
Some people waiting in line came from much further than north Georgia and parts south. Janet Waldron, in town with her friend Ann White, is here from Pasadena, California. Asked why she was in College Park she said, “I love both Stacey Abrams and Barack Obama and we want Stacey to be president one day.”
Waldron was coming to Georgia to help canvass for the Abrams campaign alongside White, but once this opportunity to see Obama came up she jumped at the chance. “We all see Georgia as a critical state for or country.”
Obama was in Milwaukee Saturday and has plans to visit Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin before Election Day.