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A history of a heavy heart and healing at the DNC

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As the unprecedented Democratic National Convention unfolds, long-time delegates are remembering past experiences.  It is still a celebration, but this year it is virtual.

Despite delegation distancing, the spirit of one man looms for State Representative Laura Hall (D-AL). 

“At this point I really think it should be a way to motivate us,” said Hall.

A noticeable missing voice at the DNC, that of John Lewis. In the weeks since his passing, Hall says his presence remains. 

“The worst thing that we could do for his memory would be not to work as hard as we can to make a difference and change,” said Hall.

Hall says Lewis’s legacy -- fighting for racial justice and voting rights -- can still be a theme this week and in the months leading up to the November election. 

“He always talked about if you see something wrong do something,” said Hall.

A delegate for decades, Hall says she always looks forward to the conventions -- rallying behind important causes and occasionally healing open wounds. This is not the first convention where she will be coming to terms with a recent loss.  

“1992 was right after my son died,” said Hall.  

Hall went to that convention in New York City with a heavy heart after losing her son to AIDS. She found a support system at Madison Square Garden. Hall says gathering with people from all over the country and reflecting on the illness that killed her son helped her and her husband. 

“It was probably the beginning of a healing process for both of us,” said Hall.  

Hall says they did not discuss his illness during the time leading up to his death. She says most people did not know about his fight with AIDS until after he died. At that convention, she was able to have conversations she had previously not had.

“It was that kind of thing where you were able to release all of those emotions,” said Hall.

She says the virus was a key focus at the New York convention. Hall brought her grandson, a one-year-old at the time, and carried him in the AIDS march. Before his death, Hall’s son had asked her to put a pin on his lapel after his passing.

“Fight AIDS, not people with AIDS.”

The 2020 DNC comes to a close on Thursday. The Republicans have their convention next week.

Copyright 2020 Gray DC. All rights reserved.

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