By Elijah Manley
“Vote Green 2016! Vote Green 2016! Vote Green 2016!” The cheering continues as I enter the student center at the University of Houston. It was a very hot day, and I was drenched in sweat. This was the day I was scheduled to address the convention. “I commend the Green Party for being progressive enough to allow this historic event to happen under its ticket.” (Massive applause)
This was the Green Party’s 2016 National Convention in Houston, Tex. Let’s go back a few days. It was Wednesday Aug. 3, 2016. After landing, my driver, Laura Palmer, took me to my new home, the place I’d be staying for the remainder of the week. As I strutted into the very beautiful dorms at UH, the cool A/C brushed off the Texas heat from my skin. Of course heat wasn’t anything new.
Being a Floridian, I understand the intensity of heat. That night, I got settled, and began to tour the beautiful campus. It was huge and beautiful. On Thursday, I woke up and went straight to breakfast. The gorgeous cafeteria was amazingly beautiful.
As I walked through the cafeteria amongst the delegates, I felt like a superstar. Delegates were walking up to me, shaking my hand and asking for a picture with me. “Wait, are you Elijah Manley?” Of course I had never been in a situation like that. That was the case all day, through registration, all the way to sleep time. Friday was even more of an amazing day. Live workshops on racism and ageism, and a bunch of interviews.
Finally, I ran into Dr. Cornel West. Dr. West walks up to me and identifies me. At that moment, I’m very shocked. “Dr. West! How are you?” He tells me how proud he is of me, and records a live video with me. My day was enlightened.
That same day, I went to the credentials committee to contest the primary results due to an unbiased primary system. After contesting the primary on live twitter video, I was interviewed by half a dozen media outlets. On Friday, I really needed to get some air. I had been up almost all night for the past two days. I walked around the campus and met hundreds of students.
Many of the students spoke about issues that were impacting our generation. I used their responses to develop my official convention speech. I wanted to develop the best speech ever. So I did. Saturday I delivered it. I was in the press room, answering questions in the official press conference of The Green Party.
Three presidential contenders set next to me, as well as the then-presumptive Vice Presidential Nominee Ajamu Baraka. Dr. West sat in the front row of the audience, staring straight at me, as if he saw something in me that I didn’t. Everyone had fantastic responses, but mine was phenomenal. After responding to all of the questions, people were scratching their heads and asking themselves: “Is he really 17?” Dr. West just sat there with a straight and serious face listening. After the press conference, he came over and gave me a hug, and told me that I “have a great gift.” He encouraged me to continue doing what I was doing, because my knowledge was “deep.”
I was rushed backstage because I was next. Backstage, I had tea and coffee, listening to the massive amounts of people chanting and applauding the speakers. I was a bit nervous. It was my first ever convention, and I was a candidate! David Cobb, the 2004 presidential nominee of the Green Party set next to me, encouraging me.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Elijah D. Manley.” Massive applause and ovation as I walked out on the stage shocked me. I was live! Everyone was watching and looking. My supporters, my enemies, everyone.
“Thank you! Thank you all so much!” In my speech, I outlined the importance of combating police brutality, and climate change. I spoke about homophobia, fear, and hate. So much applause, I almost fell out. But I wasn’t nervous. I felt at home. The many delegates I met were staring at me. “The restoration of the social safety net!” The whole audience stood up screaming and applauding. My golden line struck a chord in the audience. “I do this for all of the young people who are and were told that they are too young to do anything. I proved that you’re never too young.
No matter if you want to be a doctor, lawyer, athlete, pop star, or President of the United States, you can do it! As I walked off the stage, I could feel the positive energy, massive applause, standing ovation, and impact. It was amazing. At the roll call of the states, the party nominated Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts, and acknowledged my positive impact and inspirational run! After my final interview with TYT (The Young Turks) we had a great time, and enjoyed the last night of the convention.
The last part of my day was meeting with our nominee, Dr. Jill Stein. I said farewell to Dr. West, and told him that I hope to see him again. He said “You will, I guarantee that.” The best part was when a delegate walked up to me and told me that I was inspiring. She was in tears. She said that her husband and young son were watching my speech at home, and now her son wants to run for president. I smiled, looked at her, and said, “He can now. His knowledge is ‘deep’. The next day I flew out, with another journey on my mind.