The Birmingham Tea PartyBy
I arrived at the Tea Party a little late. The first thing that I noticed was groups of people leaving the Galleria with "vote no" signs in their hands. Why were they leaving so early? I was soon to find out.
I had to walk half a loop around the mall, since I could only park at a great distance from the Winfrey where the rally was being held. When finally I got there I was surprised to see a mob of folks clustered outside. Why were they here? Was this the rally? The speaker had, with assistance, climbed up on a five-foot planter where he was precariously perched, and using a bullhorn to address the crowd.
I heard Charles Bishop, John Rice, and Matt Murphy. The crowd was wild. They responded to every other line with a roar, and with a bellowed "no" when asked if they were going to let anybody get away with anything.
Eventually I learned what had happened. The room for which the rally had been reserved had filled to the fire marshal's allowed capacity and others were not allowed to enter. This crowd outside was the overflow.
Eventually, through the intervention of one of the sponsors, I managed to gain entrance to the main assembly. It exceeded any political rally I have ever seen. For spirit, energy and enthusiasm it is more than I could have imagined.
Stan Pate was speaking when I made it into the room. Stan is a very good speaker, and he didn't hesitate to let'em have it. He was one of the sponsors of the event and was heartily applauded and given repeated standing ovations.
Russ Fine, of the Russ and Dee Show on Birmingham's FM 101.1, The Source, next took the stage. Russ is a powerful motivator and gifted showman. He took a full minute or two in taking off his coat, throwing it to the floor, and rolling up his sleeves. Then he let'em have it too. More thunderous applause, more standing ovations.
I gauged the loudest response to have come when one of the speakers, and I have to admit I don't remember which one, said that Ed Richardson had to go. Good that the Winfrey is structurally sound. Otherwise I would have feared for the integrity of the roof.
How many came to Birmingham yesterday? Nobody knows. The posted capacity of the room was 1,399. It was filled to capacity and a few beyond the capacity crept in. Outside? Several hundred. Further, numerous people came and left early due to the overcrowding. These were among the ones I saw leaving as I came in. Also others heard of the crowd problem via radio and dropped plans to come.
So you add it up. It was all a huge success. I can attest to that. Admittedly it was not primarily aimed at winning new converts, but at inspiring the choir. And inspired they were. I expect them to sing beautifully. Listen! I believe that I can hear them now!