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LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, one of several Golden State delegates to speak at the Democratic National Convention, lauds affirmative action for his rise from Boyle Heights to UCLA and pubic office. Conan Nolan reports from Charlotte, NC, for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2012.
The last day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte built toward a climactic mix of music, politics and conviviality like the final moments of a charismatic religious retreat.
With President Obama’s evening acceptance speech clearly to be the highlight, the early part of the day was a time for inspiring the troops and imparting a sense of urgency about the upcoming November election.
Musical acts punctuated the speeches.
Participants swayed together as singer-songwriter James Taylor sang, “Carolina in My Mind,” and danced to songs by Mary J. Blige.
At the podium, speakers sounded familiar themes: Congressman Barney Frank, who is openly gay, asked why Republicans “think my marriage is a threat to theirs.” A veteran complained that GOP candidate Mitt Romney did not offer a shout-out to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tried, like others at the DNC event, to recast the immigration tales told by GOP speakers last week in Tampa.
His grandfather, Villaraigosa said, came to the U.S. from Mexico “with no money and even less English,” working hard all his life.
But it was a government effort – affirmative action - that helped Villaraigosa get into college at UCLA, the mayor said. And that was an important part of his success.
“I got there on an affirmative action program,” Villaraigosa said. “Some people would say I got in through the back door. But one thing is for sure, I got out through the front.”
Speeches and performances, including an appearance by the band Foo Fighters, were interspersed throughout the day. Actress Scarlett Johansson was scheduled to speak shortly before 5 p.m. Pacific time.
Author and attorney Caroline Kennedy was set to speak at 5 p.m., the second member of the extended Kennedy clan to address the group, and vice president Joe Biden, nominated by his son Beau and introduced by his wife Jill, was scheduled to appear between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Pacific time.