Originally published at Medium. Reprinted by permission.
*I could save this for Throwback Thursday but I decided to dig out this email I sent to friends twelve years ago about meeting Bill Clinton. At the time everyone was ecstatic and shared my excitement. You see, we thought life would be great if Bill Clinton was our president again. My how times have changed!
Bill Clinton was on his book tour for his autobiography, “My Life.” He made sure that an African American owned Bookstore in a Black neighborhood, got a piece of the action and Eso Won which was located on Crenshaw Blvd at the time, got some of that big business. It was a two day ordeal that required getting in line for a ticket, paying for your book and then showing up the morning of his appearance.
According to the Los Angeles Times, over 2,000 Black folk showed up crowding both sides of Crenshaw Blvd., hoping to get a glimpse of “The first Black president” (pre-Barack Obama).
We waited in line for hours, we Black people that were lucky enough to score a ticket and would get to meet Bill Clinton and get our book signed. I remember that everyone was HAPPY. We talked and laughed and didn’t mind that we had to wait and go through security etc. Finally, his limo arrived and we squealed with joy.
Below is the email I wrote about my experience. There is one significant memory I have about the day that is in contrast to what happened last week. (The nasty screaming match with Black protesters)
After our book signing was over, instead of getting in his limo and zipping off to the waiting wealthy white people in Century City, he hung out with us in the ‘hood.
READ RELATED STORY: Antonio Moore Opinion: Bill Clinton Gets it Wrong on Mass Incarceration
The Secret Service was not pleased when former President Bill Clinton decided to go out on Crenshaw Blvd., a street in South Central Los Angeles known for many a run in with gangs and the LAPD, and greet the Black folks who did not have the money or the luck to get a golden ticket to purchase his book. He strolled into the jubilant crowd and began shaking hands, taking hugs, signing pieces of paper and chatting with folks.
I specifically remember thinking that Black people in that crowd LOVED him and they would not let anyone hurt him.
There were no protesters, no hecklers only adoration. No one new what lay ahead with mass incarceration and the Black Lives Matter members were probably in elementary school. He stayed so long hanging with us, he was very late getting to those affluent white folks across town that probably had bought several copies of his book.
Anyway, I know Bill Clinton is probably thinking back to those golden days. The feeling is similar to the low that engulfs you when a relationship that was wonderful goes sour and the person that adored you leaves dead bugs on your doorstep.
READ RELATED STORY: Hutchinson Report Townhall of the Air Examines the Bill Clinton-BLM Controversy
Can this relationship be saved? I don’t think we will ever adore Bill Clinton again the same way, but we can repair the relationship and be friends. I won’t go into the details now, but the members of the Congressional Black Caucus need to have a town hall with Bill Clinton and get all the facts on the table about the 1994 Crime bill and 1996 Welfare Reform bill. They need to discuss the effects and solutions to righting the wrongs that transpired. To be continued…
Here is my email from the day I met President Bill Clinton.
06/29/04 at 12:45 PM
I braved the mob scene and waited 6 hours in line on
Saturday to get Bill Clinton to autograph his book.
(There were thousands who waited 14 hours and didn’t
get a book much less a signature)
When I got my turn to face the former president, I
handed him my business card, introduced myself and
told him I needed money for my business. My book was
signed and in my hands at this point and normally you
are hustled out. However, Mr. Clinton continued
talking to me! He asked me questions so the secret
service let me stay and have a conversation with him
as he continued to sign books. Needless to say it was
an amazing experience. He appeared to really take an
interest in what I had to say. I explained that I
couldn’t get funding from the banks or the SBA etc.
and what I needed was venture capital. He looked at
my card and said “Okay.”
I left the event floating. I had scored the book, his
autograph and a one on one conversation. It was like
meeting your favorite movie star. The article in the
Sunday LA Times:
Tells of some of the mayhem and outpouring of love
from the crowd. Most people were gushing about how
much they love him or how he should still be president
etc. I figured no matter what you said to him, he
made you feel great.
Low and behold yesterday my assistant comes to my
office an says “There is a gentleman on the phone and
he said Bill Clinton told him to call you.” I
couldn’t believe it! It was the head of a venture
capital firm looking to invest money in inner city
companies. Bill Clinton had told him to call me and
to help me!
The firm’s investments start at 10 million dollars.
We’ll see how it goes. When you see me on the cover
of BLACK ENTERPRISE you will know I got the money 🙂
All in All it was just a fantastic experience and it
gave me a much needed boost of confidence.
God is awesome and you never know where your blessing
may come from — even the former leader of the free
Angela de Joseph is a talkshow host,writer/producer and health educator. Contact her via: [email protected].