Why I Love The Obamas


There have been 43 White men as U.S. President.  President Obama finally broke up the club of whiteness and added some diversity.  He is truly in all aspects of the term African-American; since he was born to a White mother from the Midwest and an African father from Kenya.  When running for office there was a dichotomy of opinion whether he was Black enough or if he was too Black.  Some wondered would the White House now become the Black House?  During all the negative rhetoric I watched not with despair but with pride to see a Black man take the oath of office to become the 44th U.S. President.  Wait, let me correct, I listened while on Pennsylvania Avenue standing in Freedom Plaza along the Inauguration Parade route just around the corner from the White House on January 20, 2009.

My journey began way back with the Obamas in 1996, when as a Clinton-Gore volunteer, I was tasked with phone banking and making down ticket calls for Barack Obama.  I didn’t know much about him except he had done organizing within his community.  He was a lawyer at that point having graduated from Harvard Law School.  He also taught constitutional law these were snippets of information provided over the course of the ’96 campaign.  It was a joyous time when on November 5, 1996, President Clinton and Vice President Gore were re-elected and Barack Obama won his first election for the Illinois State Senate.  During the Victory Party at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, getting my first hugs from Senator-elect Obama and his wife Michelle was heart-warming, yes they’ve always been huggers.

I relocated in 1997 to South Carolina, so Barack Obama was my Senator only for a short while.  However, I watched with pride when he was introduced to the world at the 2004 Democratic National Convention during the speech heard around the globe.  The most recognized part of the speech is:

“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

However, one of my favorite parts of the speech is:

“If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.  If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.  If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.  It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.”

After hearing this phenomenal speech everyone wanted to know who is this State Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate?  I already knew and watched from that point waiting for the moment for when he would run for U.S. President.  It wasn’t a question of if but when.

Following many rumors in February 2007, in Springfield, Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama announced his run for U.S. President.  Among other U.S. Senators running were Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton.  In May 2007, I stopped by the South Carolina Obama Campaign Headquarters in Columbia, SC located on the corner of Calhoun and Assembly streets and began my volunteer efforts.  Starting off doing phone banking I knew my talent was better used in other capacities.  And over time soon became what I am known best as Data Goddess.  The Obama Campaign recreated how data as well as digital media was used during a campaign.  He created via his experience of community organizing a new mold for how to run a Presidential campaign.  With the blowout win of the South Carolina Presidential Democratic Primary, Obama and not Clinton became the candidate to beat.

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Taken by Staff Photographer in Manning, SC – November 2007

Upon becoming elected as the 44th President even during a campaign where rocks and stones were thrown his way, he pushed for an agenda passionate to him.  Unlike any other President before him his cabinet was filled with powerful and capable women.  Showing the importance of women, the first piece of legislation he signed was the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act Bill.”  Over the last 8 years, President Obama has signed approximately 1,350 pieces of legislation into law.  His most famous and the piece of legislation marked for repeal by the 115th U.S. Congress is The Affordable Care Act.  Coming into the White House with a dysfunctional banking system and an auto industry near bankruptcy he made tough decisions in bailing both out with federal assistance.  Even when detractors thought this was not the better solution but time has shown it was the best solution.

There are far too many things to list regarding why I have such admiration for the Obama Administration.  However, I most respect the humanness of the President.  During addresses after shootings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT and last year at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida we saw a very human and compassionate President.  We also saw this when speaking about the killing of Trayvon Martin and during the numerous addresses made upon unjustified shooting of Black men and women by law enforcement across the nation.  It is the humanness, dignity, and intelligence that I most admire about President Obama.

With the incoming 45th President, I am greatly concerned about the openness and dignity that President Obama brought to the White House.  I do not have confidence in the leadership to come this is based on the vitriol hate displayed during the 2016 Presidential campaign by the Republican Presidential nominee.  I admit I am a staunch liberal and a leader within the South Carolina Democratic Party, so to many of course I admire and support President Obama.  However, I am fair and try not to pre-judge but what I have seen thus far from the U.S. President-Elect does not give me great confidence in the next four years.  I do not see an inclusive or diverse White House or one open to the public in the way the Obama Administration engaged the public.

I admit as a Black woman I have watched with pride the initiatives put in place by First Lady Michelle Obama.  She has worked for military families to getting young people moving and eating healthy to fighting for girls right to education around the globe.  Being a part of history also puts a smile in my heart.  On June 1, 2016, on behalf of the Columbia Museum of Art as their Community Member, I attended the ceremony and reception for 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  It was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House.  And to the surprise of us all while in the Blue Room we saw Marine One land and take off on the White House lawn!  This opportunity seemed to be a full circle moment from when I first met the Obama’s in Chicago, Illinois.

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2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Program

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Karen Brosius, Michelle Obama, Joyce Rose-Harris – White House East Room           June 2016

Finally, I say thank you President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for your leadership and dedication to the American people.  Seeing a Black couple occupy the White House makes me proud not merely because they are Black but because they worked hard to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  There was no silver spoon for them during their childhoods but there was the knowledge of how important it is to get an education and then to uplift their communities.  I will miss the weekly addresses by President Obama and the many initiatives of First Lady Obama but I know now they will take their work to Chicago, Illinois in a year or so, putting their knowledge and activism in the Obama Presidential Library and Center.  I know there is much more awesome things to come for the Obama family.  Thank you President and First Lady Obama for showing citizens of the United States and the world how to rise higher.

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Representing the CMA at the White House


On June 1st awaking to an azure blue Washington, DC sky, I had a flutter of butterflies while preparing for a very special visit.  I had taken great effort to select an ensemble that reflected the inspiration exhibited in the Columbia Museum of Art galleries.  The main pop of color was a hue of chartreuse.  Entering the lobby of the hotel where CMA Executive Director Karen Brosius was waiting, I laughed when I saw two other ladies wearing similar color schemes. Director Brosius and I, were among a total of 20 individuals that would later stand on stage with First Lady Michelle Obama in The White House.

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Part of the Official Invitation

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Official IMLS Booklet and My Bio

The 20 (10 institution heads & 10 community members) represented 5 libraries and 5 museums.  We all were in the nation’s capital for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service ceremony.   The national medal is awarded by the Institute of Museums and Library Services; and is presented by Mrs. Obama.  It is a once in a lifetime award and Columbia Museum of Art was the only art museum this year.  I was honored to be selected as the community member who accompanied Director Brosius and Board President Claude Walker to Washington, DC.

Telling the cab driver “White House please” was a dream come true.  Upon arriving to the designated gate you could feel the electricity of excitement.  We were all as giddy as children on Christmas morning.  Once done migrating through the various security areas we entered into a space just outside of the East Wing of the White House.  We were all guest of Mrs. Obama and therefore were able to carry purses and use the powder room to freshen up.  Ascending a beautiful staircase to the second floor we entered into the grandeur that is the people’s house.  There was a quick walkthrough of the ceremony and then we were free to roam.

In front of Jackie Kennedy Portrait

In the First Ladies Portrait Room

Looking out on the South Lawn

Looking out on the South Lawn

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Looking toward the Rose Garden

Chilling In The Red Room

In the Red Room before the ceremony.

I enjoyed wandering between the East Room, Red Room, Blue Room, Green Room, and State Room.  I never wanted for anything and I truly felt like an honored guest.  Sitting and chatting with the other attendees, such as Robin Sparkman CEO of StoryCorps was magical.  Shortly before the ceremony we had a private meeting and photo with the First Lady, Mrs. Obama is everything you’d imagine and more in person.  She is regal and gracious.  Upon entering the East Room for the ceremony it was a humbling moment to hear the applause guests and attendees.

The Columbia Museum of Art had the pleasure of sitting directly in front of the podium.  Listening to the opening remarks by both IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew and Mrs. Obama showed the importance of the institutions receiving this year’s national medal.  Due to the work in the community the CMA & the other awardees are anchors and a resource to uplift.  A reception directly followed the ceremony with delicious heavy hors d’oeuvres.  Both Director Brosius were interviewed by the Post & Courier regarding the ceremony and what the national medal will mean for the CMA.

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Photo Credit IMLS Staff: CMA Director, First Lady, Community Member(Author)

Mingling in the Blue Room it seemed as though it couldn’t get any better.  Visiting rooms steeped in history, I spoke with the President and Community Member of the Chicago History Museum, one of my favorite hometown museums.  Someone in the White House staff directed us to the Blue Room window, where we saw in the distance a helicopter.  Upon its we realized that it was a military helicopter and then it clicked.  “It’s Marine One”, we shouted.  Excited we looked and waited to see if President Obama was aboard.  He wasn’t but soon he came out to the lawn to board and before boarding, he waved to us.  What a fabulous surprise.

Surprise Marine One and POTUS

Photo taken by: Christian Hopkins, Community Member, Tomaquag Museum

Meeting First Lady of the United States and seeing the President of the United States was definitely a major highlight of this trip.  However, the beacon and jewel was definitely the awarding of the 2016 National Medal of Museum and Library Service.  It was a surreal and amazing experience to be selected as the Community Member.  I know the CMA Board & other leadership will not rest on their laurels after receiving this prestigious award.  I believe now they we will have an even wider wing span to soar.  I look forward to working with the CMA to ensure expanded outreach to the community.

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Looking For Nothing In Return


Presidential Event AccessThis past Friday, March 6, 2015, The President of the United States, Barack Obama held a Town Hall meeting at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. Benedict College is a historically Black college in the state that he, others and myself know helped propel him to the White House by winning the South Carolina Democratic Primary, on Saturday, January 26, 2008. He not only won it but left his opponents scratching their heads and wondering what happened. Then Senator Barack Obama won the SC Democratic Primary with 55.4% of the vote, with then Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a far second with 26.5% and Senator John Edwards an even further third place with 17.6%. Even adding Clinton and Edwards votes together Obama had won.

He admitted to an intimate crowd of 1,100 students, elected officials, and community leaders including myself that he was long overdue for a visit to South Carolina. We all cheered in complete agreement. After short opening remarks President Obama opened up the floor for approximately 45 minutes of questions and answers. With microphone in hand walking around the stage, he took questions. Diplomatically beginning with female, male, female, male to be fair to those in attendance. There were questions that ranged form the environment specifically the Keystone Pipeline veto, to gun violence as well as findings regarding the Ferguson police department.

Then there was the 10-year old boy that stole the show. Trace Adams asked the President, “When did he first think of becoming President.” President Obama responded, “It wasn’t when he was 10 years old.” The President indicated “He was more interested in becoming an Architect and creating buildings.” What I found to be inspiring was after Trace, who was directly behind me sat back down he burst into tears. I can only imagine the impact of the leader of the free world telling him he could be President has done to inspire him.

President Obama at Benedict CollegeIt was on Monday, I learned that President Obama was coming to South Carolina. And I immediately began getting request for tickets to the event. I felt honored that people thought I had such influence and power but at that point I didn’t think I would even be able to attend. The event was focused on speaking to and encouraging young people. However as the week progressed, I was approached with the opportunity to get entrance into the event. To be honest, I hesitated in deciding whether to attend, I thought that it would be a huge crowd. However, I learned it was going to only be select group of people in attendance.

Often I am asked how did I get involved in the various activities in which I participate. I sometimes want to say, I am merely present in my life. I first volunteered to help Obama get elected in the 1996 General Election when he was running for Illinois State Senator. Initially volunteering for President Clinton’s re-election campaign, I had the opportunity to help with what is called down-ticket races. And Obama was the race, for which I provided assistance via phonebooks.

Moving forward to May 2007, when I volunteered for the Obama ’08 campaign the rest is history. I drove in a Secret Service lead motorcade, helped assemble his personal daily briefing books, assisted with the General Election Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign, and from 2010 until 2013 served as State Digital Lead. My role as State Digital Lead even lead to opportunities to manage the state digital desk at the Presidential Inaugural Committee HQ in Washington, DC on 2013 National Day of Service.  All of this was done on a volunteer unpaid basis. I did not look for any reward other than to help get Obama elected and then re-elected.

Politics can be brutal and overall I enjoy my career, so I don’t desire pursuing a position in the political arena outside of my volunteer efforts. However, I have had some amazing opportunities along this journey and looking back would be just as active as I have been.  Above the experiences I have gained, valued and honest friendships with people I may never have met otherwise.

Upon first moving to South Carolina, I inquired of my now late grandfather, how he received so many accolades and rewards? He said, “He was just present.” Of course it was more than him being present. He had to actively volunteer for the various organizations in which he was involved. His hard work ethic led to being approached by leadership and propelled him into leadership roles. My grandfather and parents examples of being present in their own lives has helped to propel me forward in life. When you show up not expecting anything in return, the blessings truly do flow.

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PaisleyPerspective Supports President Obama


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President Barack Obama  (United States)

Way back in February of 2007, I took the time to research and learn the issues important to each of the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 United States Presidential Election.  I remember thinking that the candidate I would most likely support was Senator Hillary Clinton.  However the result of my research lead me to supporting Senator Barack Obama.  Quite simply then Senator Obama’s campaign website www.BarackObama.com clearly stated his agenda and what we felt about civil rights, women’s issues, the economy, and the environment; the top issues important to me.  Senator Clinton’s website was a lot of fluff and didn’t contain the substance that I was seeking.  We all know the campaign got very ugly when it turned out a little known Senator from Illinois was definitely in the lead to become the Democratic Parties nominee and then the next President.  To this day, there are still those who are bitter about the outcome of Obama being selected over Clinton.

I stand today, still proud and supportive of President Obama and his administration.  Nothing in life is perfect and efforts to reboot the economy are still being done but with that said, it is a reality that a President doesn’t have all power, as many may believe.  Yes he is one of the primary leaders of the free world as well as one of the main people who helps to set the course of the country; however, it also takes efforts of the Congress to set legislation in place to help the country.  Within the Obama Administration there have been a significant amount of accomplishments outside of Healthcare Reform, Wall Street Reform and other front-page agenda items such as reversal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  Over the next months leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election I will focus on the accomplishments of President Obama.  So with that said this blogger and blog hold heartedly support the re-election of President Obama.

Over the past fours years the President has been given the title of an elitist, however, a few years prior to being elected as President, he and First Lady Michelle Obama paid student loans like most college educated Americans.  The Obama’s if asked prior to moving to the White House could tell you how much their power bill was and knew how much a gallon of milk cost.  I do not believe that former Gov. Romney has a pulse on what average citizens deal with each day.  Nor does his wife have any idea how much a gallon of milk cost.  Lets be real the Romney’s are high-end millionaires if not billionaires with offshore accounts.  And this money was made not by building up American companies but in part by outsourcing American jobs to foreign countries.  Even if Romney did step down from Bain Capital (which I doubt) he benefited as an investor of the unemployment of our fellow Americans.

I Am A Community Organizer

Regardless of your political beliefs it is important to research the candidates.  With the use of the Internet it is easier to track and find out information about a candidate.  This is a new world of campaigning where you cannot hide your dirty laundry or offshore accounts.  President Obama’s record has been tracked by a number of non-partisan websites and PaisleyPerspective will take the time and effort to combine and bring you the accomplishments of the Obama Administration.  As stated earlier we endorse and believe that the President should be re-elected.  I choose the former Community Organizer over the former Corporate Raider any day.

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From Sad To Happy


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This weekend has been filled with a bevy of interesting situations and emotions. On Friday I attended the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner the annual fundraiser of the South Carolina Democratic Party (SCDP). With this being a Presidential election year events like this one help rally support for the Democrats agenda. The guest speaker was Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. His message was encouraging and inspiring with a focus of being purposeful Democrats. We were all motivated to have a strong backbone and support our President against Republican rhetoric.

The primary event this weekend held by the SCDP is its state convention. I attended as a delegate to this convention. But the most exciting part was being listed on my congressional districts ballot for a National Delegate seat to the Democratic National Convention to be held in Charlotte, NC. I was not successful at earning a congressional district seat; however, I also filed to run for an At-Large seat. The At-Large election to fill the remainder of 12 seats (7 women & 5 men) was late in the day. Results of the election were included in The State newspaper (http://thestate.com) today. And among the 67 names listed was my own Joyce Rose-Harris.

This was not my first time running for a National Delegate seat, I also ran in 2008. I did fairly well but did not win a seat. This year I had optimistic hope due to previously making the female At-Large ballot down from 60 to 8 females. In addition I have worked over 5 years, May 2007 until now for Obama. I believe in the work that our President has done for the country. And even though Republicans do not want to acknowledge any of President Obama’s success, an economy that was tanked by the Bush Administration has actually begun to turn around. There has been job growth; there is hope for the young girls of this country with the signing of The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; the signing of Health Care Reform Act; and repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Finally most recently President Obama followed his liberal conscious and stated his affirmation of same sex marriage, a bold personal act of opinion.

So on this Mother’s Day as I reflect on the love poured into me by my late mother, I am not as sad as I thought I would be. I did shed tears in the early hours but my husband (his mother deceased since 1993) and I attended church. We heard a message about God’s love and then went to a tasty brunch. This weekend included political awareness and actIon as well as reflection of happy memories. It is always interesting how one event can reverse the emotions connected with a holiday. Now forever memories of Mother’s Day 2012 and SC Democratic Weekend 2012 will make me smile.

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