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Foxx hails city, Obama in convention greeting

Charlotte’s mayor says school desegregation a generation ago changed the life of the city and his own

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Speaking Tuesday night to a worldwide audience about the hometown that he says changed his life, Mayor Anthony Foxx welcomed the Democratic convention to Charlotte, a place “where Americans have come together ... and made great things possible.”

Foxx’s speech, which lasted about four minutes, alluded to Martin Luther King and ended with a rousing endorsement of President Barack Obama, whom Foxx considers a friend.

In an interview hours before he took the stage at Time Warner Cable Arena, the 41-year-old mayor said he planned to “pour his heart out” about Charlotte.

Given that chance shortly after 7 p.m., he characteristically fell back on a personal narrative that has become a hallmark of many of his speeches.

More than 40 years ago, he said, Charlotte families chose to unite behind school integration, not erupt in the violence that burned through much of the South.

“And because they did, they gave a generation of kids a chance to go to school together, to learn together, and to recognize that no wall is too high or too strong to be broken down, if we do it together,” Foxx said.

“I was one of those children. I learned what it truly meant to be judged by the content of one’s character,”

Foxx, the only child of a single mother, was raised by his grandparents.

“They taught me to take pride in hard work, to take responsibility for my actions, and to understand that education could expand my mind and transform my life,” he said.

“I live by the values my family and ... and this community taught me.”

Foxx said Obama shares those same values.

“This is a man who pulled our economy back from the brink. This is a president who plans to give every child an opportunity to succeed,” he said. “This is a leader who believes all Americans should have a fair shot to go as far their talents can take them.

“So Charlotte, North Carolina, America, when this convention ends on Thursday, our work does not. ... We will come together, as we have so many times before. We will stand up for a leader who will move this country forward.”

Foxx’s day started early, and included appearances on MSNBC, C-Span and CNN.

A little after 4 p.m., he left a meeting he hosted on The Square to make the three-block walk to the arena.

“Knock ‘em dead,” Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan told him at the door.

On the walk down Trade Street, Foxx said he’d been working on his speech for weeks.

Asked if he was having any last-minute jitters, he said at some point he might be nervous.

“But now, I don’t have time.”

Gordon: 704-358-5095
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