There was caution as well as exuberance at the Democratic Convention Monday night. First the exuberance – the place was packed to the brim. The first thing I heard when I reached the floor was the Fire Marshall telling the stewards to close the doors.

The crowd rose to its feet as one after Massachusetts Sen Edward Kennedy appeared.

But the feelings that brought tears to many eyes were mixed with grief. The party’s liberal leader is sick. The event was billed as a "tribute" to Teddy – and that’s how the occasion felt.

Michelle Obama delivered quite possibly the smartest as well as the most passionate speech by any potential first lady to take the Convention floor. But again, just a few feet from me sat four older African American women who, wiping their tears, told me they just couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing.

Michelle Obama drew attention to two anniversaries: the 44th anniversary of Dr King’s "I have a Dream" speech and the 88th anniversary of women’s suffrage . But those anniversaries bring up mixed feelings too. While they celebrate now, forty-four years ago, the Democratic Party of the time did its best to keep civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer and her Mississippi Freedom delegation out of their convention. And much to the fury of many suffrage workers the 19th Amendment did nothing to dismantle Jim Crow…

That a blue collar black woman kicked off convention week to a standing room only ovation is a big hopeful thing. Much needed change seems to be in the air. But will it happen? Not just for the Obamas, but for the nation?

That’s what many here are wondering. It’s not a sucking sound you hear, it’s people holding their breath.

The F Word is a daily commentary by Laura Flanders on GRITtv. Watch GRITtv on Free Speech TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415) or at And become a subscriber.