Young activist from Savoy part of history

Thursday, August 28
PITTSFIELD — When Molly O'Grady takes a seat tonight at Invesco Field in Denver, she'll think back to a July evening four years ago spent at home with her parents in Savoy.

O'Grady, then a sophomore at Hoosac Valley High School, was watching a broadcast of the 2004 Democratic National Convention when a relatively unknown state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama delivered the keynote address. She liked him right away.

"He had an energy that I hadn't seen before," she said in a telephone interview last night.

The evening would be the start of a journey that would lead her all the way to her role as one of three Obama delegates for the 1st Congressional District at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Obama will speak to an estimated 75,000 people tonight.

'Other delegates are excited'

The past few days in Denver have been a "whirlwind" for O'Grady, who, at 20, is the youngest Massachusetts delegate.

"Other delegates are excited to see young people who care to be here," she said.

Although O'Grady's life as a political science major at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is jam-packed with friends, jobs, and school — she has to be back on campus on Tuesday for the first day of classes as a junior — she fits civic obligations into her schedule.

"(Young activists) don't have a lot of time to commit to campaigning, but we make the time because this is important," she said. "We're not here because it's a celebrity thing."

'It's an amazing experience'

O'Grady has had a busy week: In between nighttime duties on the convention floor — a spectacle she likened to a rock concert (particularly "the pushing to get out when its over," she said) — O'Grady took part in a tree-planting project at Bicentennial Park with former President Carter and a group of other delegates, and she has attended a host of different panel discussions and caucuses.

"It's an amazing experience," she said. "I'm close to so many politicians that I admire."

On Sunday night, she went to a party hosted by U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Gov. Deval L. Patrick.

O'Grady worked for the latter's election campaign in 2006, an experience that gave her the "push start" she needed for a life in politics.

Last spring, as a member of the UMass' University Democrats and the Barack Obama Committee, she was elected to the delegation by party caucus.

And now she's in Denver, along with thousands of other delegates and spectators, preparing to come together for Obama's acceptance speech.

"People keep talking about the rift in the Democratic Party, but I don't get that sense here," O'Grady said, referring to the divide between those who support Obama, and those delegates who wanted Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the presidential nominee.

"Delegates just want to be true to the people who elected them," she continued. "It's not about creating a rift. (Clinton) supporters can't let hurt feelings get in the way."

To reach Jessica Willis:, (413) 528-3660.


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