Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Sun Expanded Coverage
That’s how many black delegates are reportedly at the Republican National Convention this week.
Lorraine Marshall of Las Vegas is one of them. She is the only black delegate in the Nevada delegation. But she doesn’t feel alone.
As she takes her seat among the 2,380 delegates, she sees only those who share her values and show her kindness, she says. She doesn’t look through the prism of race here.
Her world was literally more black and white last week.
When Sen. Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president in Denver, Marshall watched with great pride on TV at home: she saw a black family, with a loving father, mother and young daughters.
In recalling Wednesday what she saw, her eyes brightened. “You just had the warmth of this family unit ... that black family unit,” Marshall said, seated in the lobby of the St. Paul Hotel where the Nevada delegation is staying this week.
“As an African-American, I am very, very proud of his accomplishments. It is historic.”
And there is a but.
Marshall will not be voting for Obama this fall. She will be voting for Arizona Sen. John McCain.
The 53-year-old human resources executive is against abortion. It is perhaps the single most important issue in her political universe.
She could not, would not, vote for a candidate who did not share her view — even history’s first major party black candidate.
When McCain told the evangelist Rick Warren that he believes life begins at conception, Marshall, again watching TV, cheered out loud.
“It’s a core value of faith that’s the most important to me,” she said.
Family and black friends give her “You’re what?” looks when she tells them she is voting for McCain. They give her a hard time.
Another black delegate, an alternate from Arizona, told a funny story this week about having to fess up to his golfing buddy that no, in fact, he was not voting for Obama. Then he gently broke the news, as he put it, to 150 in-laws at his wife’s family reunion.
Marshall, who came with her family to Las Vegas from California when she was in high school, said her loved ones have come to understand her spiritual conviction is stronger than their political arguments.
Marshall wasn’t always a Republican.
Ten years ago, the registered Democrat took a long, hard look at her political choices and decided Republicans “better aligned with my faith.”
At the time, her now 31-year-old daughter was just beginning adulthood. Disabled with cerebral palsy, her daughter inspired a special commitment to protect what she calls the sanctity of life.
Marshall returned to Las Vegas after college on the East Coast and made a home with her husband.
USA Today reported this week that a think tank has surmised there were three dozen black delegates in St. Paul. Marshall was disbelieving. There must be more, she said. She had met many of them.
The Republican National Committee could not immediately provide the numbers. It said 13 percent of the delegates are from minority groups.
The Democrats counted 1,087 blacks among the 4,440 delegates last week in Denver.
Edward O. Willis, the black alternate delegate from Arizona, said blacks have been part of the Democratic Party for 200 years. “It’s going to take some time to undo that.”
Marshall thinks that as historic as Obama’s nomination is, other blacks will follow. She believes she will see it again in her lifetime.
“One day, we will have the right one for me. I’m OK to wait.”