Did you go all out to get Barack Obama elected president the way I did? Did you encounter racial prejudice the way I did?
I was so encouraged by the ideas Barack Obama put forth and the change his policies represented, that I couldn’t do enough to help get him elected. I was happy to put energy, money, and shoe-leather, behind a candidate I could believe in.
I invited like-minded strangers into my home for Obama events.
I put an Obama sign in front of my Beverly Hills home where it was promptly stolen. A replacement sign was also stolen. Trying to outwit the thieves I ordered Obama stickers and plastered them on my mailbox, the façade of my home, my car bumper, and anywhere else they would stick.
Read more from Montandon
in her book
Whispers from God.
My son Sean Wilsey and his wife Daphne Beal and their two young children drove from Manhattan to Indiana to go door-to-door for Obama. They did the same thing in Philadelphia and then they went to Ohio for five days, kids in tow, living in cramped quarters with other volunteers while they knocked on doors. Sean even shelled out to attend a Manhattan reception for Obama. He sent me his photo with Obama looking at his new book State by State. That picture is at the top of this blog.
While Sean was going door-to-door I was going store-to-store. Wearing an Obama tee shirt I hit famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. At Armani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Cartier and Tiffany, I campaigned for Obama. At Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Neiman Marcus, and other tony stores and boutiques I touted Obama. Invariable, the sales staff gave me a thumbs-up and big smiles as well as perfume and eye cream samples. But a well-drawn, thin woman, looking very 90210 riding in the elevator with me at a high-end boutique became upset when I asked if she was registered to vote. “Madam,” she said. “I’m a long time resident of this community. Of course I’m registered to vote.”
I hoped my smile was a winning one, “You’re voting for Obama, I hope.”
“A black man? Never,” she said. I felt like I had been hit in the stomach.
My sister, a life long Democrat, told me she would not vote for Obama.
“He’s too full of himself.”
“You mean he’s black.”
“He thinks he’s too smart.”
“We’ve had a dumb president for eight years, is that what you want?”
“He has big ears!”
My sister is ninety-two so I let it go. But it disturbed me to realize that she is a racist. I love her in spite of it.
As I continued to campaign, I encountered plenty of Obama support but also prejudice in unexpected places. A laborer said Obama was a Muslim. He’s a terrorist, the man said. When I could take it no longer I bought a strawberry ice cream cone and sat on a Rodeo Drive curb eating it, letting the drips run down my arms the way I did as a kid.
My preacher dad fought for equality the whole of his life. In the first chapter of Whispers From God I write about how he invited black people to his services at a time when it was dangerous to do so. As a result of his courageous stand my father’s white clapboard church was burned to the ground and he was tossed out of the church. Our family ended up on welfare, or relief as it was then called. My dad died shortly afterward. And now here we are seventy-three years later, and racial bigotry still exists in our country. But happily, not enough to keep a good man from becoming president of the United States of America.
Causes Pat Montandon Supports
PETA, Women for Women, Amnesty International, Children as the Peacemakers, Peace to The Planet