Minnesotans don't have to be delegates to come to Denver

“I've been all around the world – to 13 countries,” says Saundra Crump. “But this is the most important trip I've ever made.”

Born in 1948 in Pine Bluff, Ark., she remembers the struggle for school integration vividly. Six decades hence, traveling to Denver to watch the Democrats nominate Barack Obama seemed like the only possible choice. “I've just gotta be here,” says Crump, an African American Minnesotan who looks far younger than her age standing outside the Pepsi Center wearing a bright green “Re-elect Keith Ellison” t-shirt.

Crump isn't a delegate, member of a congressional staff or Democratic party official. She's a Minneapolis resident who simply wanted to be here to see history. She trekked thousands of miles in the hopes that her niece, an Arkansas delegate, could secure her guest credentials for the floor. She's here now, outside the black steel barriers, waiting for her family member to arrive – hopefully with that magic ticket.

Around her, the other convention characters swirl. Men are hawking buttons and pennants. A bald 30ish man reads aloud from a Bible, John 3:16 over and over and over. People hand-letter signs with varying degrees of wit.

Crump is staying with the Arkansas delegation hotel along with Hawaii and Delaware – a real Democratic power center – she's seen power brokers. But she's growing impatient, and she wants inside. She's been repeatedly checking her phone for text messages during the half hour we've talked, and she does so again just as a lovely, statuesque woman walks up in a red pantsuit.

“I've been looking all over for you,” the niece says. “I've been right here,” says Saundra Crump. And then she walks past security, badge in hand, into the Pepsi Center, a witness to history.

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