In case you were wondering, the African-American hotel employee who was mentioned in Elizabeth Dole's acceptance speech last week is real. What's more, he says he's going to hold the newly elected U.S. senator to her promise to do something to help inner-city youth.
Dole mentioned her conversation with Floyd Rodgers, a "young, handsome African-American" in a folksy acceptance speech in which she also thanked campaign volunteers (including several relatives) by name. After an appearance in Raleigh with First Lady Laura Bush in the week leading up to the election, Dole says she arrived at her Charlotte hotel near midnight and was about to go to sleep, when an aide came by to tell her there was someone who'd been waiting to meet her.
That person was Rodgers, who works as a doorman at the Adams Mark Hotel in Charlotte. He says he wanted to tell Dole he was planning to vote for her and talk about "some other issues I'm concerned about." Rodgers, 42, met Dole's husband, Bob, several years ago while working as a security guard at a Philadelphia Phillies game and has followed the couple's political careers ever since.
To his amazement, Liddy Dole agreed to talk with him. "She came out and she spoke with me. She's a real spiritual lady," Rodgers says. "She just listened to me. And she promised she was going to work for the inner-city youth as well as adults."
Rodgers says he recently moved to North Carolina with his wife and stepdaughters after their son died at birth. "We wanted to start over," he says. "We wanted our kids to come somewhere peaceful." Sadly, their marriage didn't last and now he's divorced and struggling to find a way to work with children again--something he did in Pennsylvania through an urban youth baseball league sponsored by the Phillies.
Rodgers says Dole's aide called him and told him Dole was going to mention him in her speech, "but I just brushed it off." So it was something of a shock when he watched the elections results on TV in the hotel cafeteria and heard the senator-elect describing their meeting. "I felt really important," he says. "For a person to have an impact like that--sometimes people do this for publicity, but I think Mrs. Dole meant what she said."
Although they didn't talk about specific programs, Rodgers says Dole promised him she'd pay attention to issues affecting youth. "I'm going to challenge her since she made that promise," he adds.
Rodgers says he told Dole that "the most important thing is these children. I could pass tomorrow and she could pass tomorrow but these kids are still going to be around. A lot of times they go unnoticed because adults don't have compassion. And a lot of the programs for them have just dried up. But kids need a place to go. At a lot of schools, they don't even have PE anymore. All they know is computers and sitting around and getting fat. It needs to change."
We'll vote for that!