Rallying the troops -- and the votes -- at East High

An Obama booster at East.

Standing on a chair that makes him seem slightly taller than the high-schoolers and community residents gathered outside East High School, Anthony Graves of the Denver Democratic Committee begins to hype up the crowd around him. "People, we have to focus," he declares. "We have to re-energize." Then he asks, "What time is it?" and looks around the crowd for answers.

"It’s time for change!" a few girls reply excitedly.

A wide smile breaks out on Graves's bearded face. "You are on it!" he says. "But no, I want the time on your watch."

They laugh. It’s just after 2 o’clock.

With only a little over four hours before the polls close, Graves sets about delegating responsibilities to the second wave of volunteers. There’s the canvassing coordinator, the driver director and the phone-bank manager, all of whom have donated time, energy and sometimes their car for the East High School Students for Obama.

"I took off to drive people that need to get to the polling place, or who are at the wrong place,” says Sallie Baker, a drama teacher at Hill Campus of Arts and Science. "I’m here to help the Obama campaign... At this point, I’m not giving rides to people voting for McCain."

The staging area, located near 33rd and Hudson in Park Hill, is a few empty stores plastered with Obama/Biden posters, some handmade. About forty students are on hand. They have permission slips from their parents to miss the day of school.

"Let’s activate people in this community to vote!" says Graves, as the crowd voices its approval. "This is a history-making day! We only have a few more hours! Let’s go!" -- Elena Brown

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts