Day 1 in the life of a first-time at-large delegate to the DNC: Morgan A. Johnson takes demVoices along for the ride

This week from Philadelphia, demVoices is bringing our followers a view of the Democratic National Convention through the eyes of one of Ohio’s at-large delegates, Morgan A. Johnson. We will be sharing posts from Morgan throughout the week, so stay tuned in on our social media! (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). You can also follow Morgan on Twitter @MAJ_OSU.

Hello demVoices readers!

I’m looking forward to taking all of you along with me on my journey through my first Democratic National Convention. I am an at-large delegate and convention whip, which is a pretty unique feat for a 21-year-old.


That’s me, Morgan, addressing a crowd of Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters in my role as State Director of College Students for Bernie in Columbus, OH

I am a rising senior at The Ohio State University (GO BUCKS!) studying Public Affairs. As captioned above, this year I served as State Director of College Students for Bernie. Last March, I had the chance to speak to a crowd of thousands at a Bernie rally in Columbus. I’ve canvassed and registered students to vote. I’ve led marches. It’s been a busy primary season for me, to say the least.


March 2016: There’s Morgan, warming up the crowd at a Sanders rally held at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio

But, THIS is the week I have been waiting for. I’ve been preparing for the DNC for months, and now my first convention is finally here! This week, I’ll be taking you along on my journey through the wild and wonderful world of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Morgan's agenda for this week's DNC

My week’s agenda for the 2016 DNC!

Sunday was our travel day to Philadelphia. We, myself and other at-large delegates and superdelegates for the DNC, left the Ohio Democratic Party headquarters at 8:45AM. One of my roommates, Cynthia was on the bus, as was her therapy dog, Coco. You may know Cynthia from a viral video from this past October, where she extended a hug to a woman protesting outside her mosque.

I was pleased to see another familiar face on our bus–Ohio Democratic Party Chairman, David Pepper! We chatted a bit on the way to Philadelphia about the convention. Turns out, it’s his first convention too! Impressively, David passed his time on the bus working on his upcoming book, a novel called “The People’s House.”


Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper en route to the DNC in Philadelphia

This may be news to you, but the Ohio Democratic Party’s Chairman is writing a political thriller! It’s about a Youngstown reporter who discovers a private developer’s plot to gerrymander congressional districts to the advantage of his project. In Pepper’s own words, the book is intended “to do for gerrymandering what The Firm did for money laundering.” Fighting gerrymandering is right up my alley. I just spoke about the issue two weeks ago at a press conference organized by Democratic Voices and Common Cause Ohio, so I’m incredibly excited to read this book!


Morgan: “My credentials and I!”

We finally wrapped up our 4-hour bus ride and entered our hotel, which was filled to the brim with Ohio flags and TV cameras. I had the pleasure of meeting more leaders from around the state upon arriving.

All of us had to make a mad dash to the credentials booth where I picked up my swag bags, name tag and a ticket for the DNC Welcome Party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (you know, the museum steps from a certain movie about a rag-tag boxer! ROCKY!).

"The contents of my swag bags. My favorite item? The K'Nex or the Ted Strickland cookie!"

“The contents of my swag bags. My favorite item? The K’Nex or the Ted Strickland cookie!”

We partied it up with Rocky & Picasso and enjoyed music, ranging from classical violin in the galleries to Beyoncé remixes out on the steps. The city skyline was “blue with a view.” Complete with blue lights on every building, it was the perfect setting for thousands of Democratic delegates to party the night away before the Monday gavel marks the start of our convention.

A panorama of the outdoor party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

A panorama of the outdoor party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Members of the youth and millennial delegations (including myself!) hung out together and met our counterparts from other states like Delaware, Georgia, and Minnesota. It really is a beautiful thing to see youth rising up and representing our voting bloc.

Morgan: "This. Was. AWESOME. A living Picasso! How cute!"

Morgan: “This. Was. AWESOME. A living Picasso! How cute!”

After the museum party, we boarded the SEPTA bus that took us back to our hotel for the Ohio Delegation Welcome Party. It was certainly a gathering of the “who’s who” in Ohio politics, mixed with newcomers, advocates, and activists from the Buckeye State.

Morgan: "The inside of the delegate party."

Morgan: “The inside of the delegate party.”

We mingled, updated one another on our lives and our careers, and enjoyed the diverse company we were keeping. The night closed out with a poolside “Scotch and Cigar Party.” By 2AM, I was exhausted, and over-the-moon. This is going to be a GREAT convention, with a fantastic group of delegates and party leaders.

Monday’s events will include morning speakers, a delegate meeting with Bernie, and gavel at 4PM, where we will all convene on the convention floor!

Until then