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2017-11-29 / News

What’s it like introducing Obama? Just ask Bird senior Aaron Reid

BY RICH GRISET STAFF WRITER


L.C. Bird senior Aaron Reid (right) stands with his mother Sharone and former President Barack Obama at the Nov. 18 Richmond Forum. Reid first introduced Obama at an event for Sen. Tim Kaine in 2009. 
PHOTO COURTESY OF P. KEVIN MORLEY FOR THE RICHMOND FORUM L.C. Bird senior Aaron Reid (right) stands with his mother Sharone and former President Barack Obama at the Nov. 18 Richmond Forum. Reid first introduced Obama at an event for Sen. Tim Kaine in 2009. PHOTO COURTESY OF P. KEVIN MORLEY FOR THE RICHMOND FORUM Standing in front of thousands at Richmond’s Altria Theatre on Nov. 18, Aaron Reid was overjoyed to carry out the task he’d been asked to perform: that of introducing former President Barack Obama at the Richmond Forum.

Addressing the largest audience the speaker series has ever hosted, Reid, 17, performed part of Obama’s 2008 election night speech as part of his introduction. The L.C. Bird High senior has performed the speech regularly since 2009, when he first learned it for an oratory competition. That same year, at just 9 years old, he introduced Obama with the speech at a campaign event for U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.

Last week, the Observer caught up with Reid to find out what it’s like to introduce a former president.

Observer: So, Aaron, how did you start performing Obama’s election night address?

Reid: It basically started when I was looking on the internet for something to speak about for an oratory contest in Maryland, Prince George’s County. I was inspired by him, and I was influenced by my mom to do that speech. I did it, and a lot of good results came out of that. I [performed] that speech during a family reunion, and that got the attention of [state] Sen. Henry Marsh, [who] was able to get me to do Sen. [Tim] Kaine’s event in Fairfax in 2009.

Observer: How did your introduction of Obama at the Richmond Forum come about?

Reid: In January, I did an event with the Richmond Boys Choir at a church, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I was a guest speaker, along with performing with the Richmond Boys Choir. I did the speech there, and [Richmond Forum Executive Director] Bill Chapman happened to be sitting in the seats at the time. Months later, I ended up getting an email.

Observer: What was it like, meeting Obama?

Reid: The first time I met him, I was thrilled, I was overjoyed. I was shaking his hand. I told him that I did his speech before. He said, “I know.” Then, when I met him on Saturday … it was still overwhelming. I was at a loss for words. I’m at a loss for words. I couldn’t explain it. It’s a good feeling.

His handshake is one of the firmest handshakes I’ve ever had, but [his hand] fits right in there. It fit like a glove, it really did.

Observer: Aside from introducing presidents, how else do you occupy your time?

Reid: I am involved with the marching band in my school [playing tuba], as well as the boys volleyball team. I’m also part of the National Honors Society.

Observer: You’re graduating this spring. What are your plans, post-graduation?

Reid: I plan to go to college. There’s two colleges I’m looking at: Emerson College for sports communication, and Virginia State for music education.

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