Before OFA, Organizing for America, became Organizing for Action, I was a member of Ladies in Blue, a women’s political group that was part of Organizing for America. I was chosen with five ladies to greet the President of the United States when he flew in to Intel, Hillsboro, Oregon, on February 18, 2011.
I was given the honor because of one or three things: I fought for equal pay in 1972 and was reimbursed, I went to an Obama Town Rally in Medford when the candidate Obama was running for President and asked him a question in front of 2,000 people, and I worked the phones for him for a great deal of time.
Whatever the reason was, I was amongst the chosen to meet President Obama. I was giddy-ish inside. I was so elated that I felt I had the golden key that opened up all the doors to life and the thought of meeting the President of the United States was my door to reality that was going to make it all happen. Joy churned in my stomach and toes. My shoes lost their elasticity.
The ladies and I met and talked with Governor John Kitzhaber and other VIPs. I was wondering if we wouldn’t get to see President Obama because of his busy schedule. After President Obama’s speech on innovation and technology and his praise for Intel’s efforts for education, our selected group was asked to go to a room for a photo opportunity with the President. The room was embellished with blue drapes and the American flag and the State of Oregon flag where we were to take our pictures. I was beaming from ear to ear.
Rehearsing what I was going to say to the President, as my fingers twisted into knots and my thoughts raced like Secretariat’s hoofs on the race track, I was called forward from a line of dedicated women. It was my turn.
My name, Sherry Joiner, was repeated. Startling myself, I said, “I’m so happy I finally got to meet you Mr. President. Thank you for all you do.” He shook my hand. He was a giant towering over my head about 18 inches. A warm and congenial smile. With his hand on my shoulder and my I can’t believe this is happening to me expression on my face, we took a picture.
I held my breath then I said, “I was one of the first women in the US to fight for equal pay and get reimbursed. I fought for equal pay in 1972. Marched to Oregon’s State capitol building by myself to fight for my rights and to talk with the Attorney General. I received a reimbursement settlement from him.”
After the photo op President Obama said, “Hey you! I’m proud of you. Keep up the good work.”
I’ll always remember that day. It was the Happiest Moment of my life.