DNC's Oldest Delegate's Life Spans Early Days Of Suffrage To Historic Nomination Ruby Gilliam is 93 years old, a lifelong Democrat — and the oldest delegate at the party's national convention this year. "It's almost like a dream come true," she tells NPR's Audie Cornish.
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DNC's Oldest Delegate's Life Spans Early Days Of Suffrage To Historic Nomination

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DNC's Oldest Delegate's Life Spans Early Days Of Suffrage To Historic Nomination

DNC's Oldest Delegate's Life Spans Early Days Of Suffrage To Historic Nomination

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish in Philadelphia where Ruby Gilliam will be listening to Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic nomination for president this evening. She's a World War II Navy veteran and has been waiting for this moment a long time.

RUBY GILLIAM: I suppose all my life. You know, my dad was running for an office, and my mother couldn't even vote for him.

CORNISH: Women only gained the right to vote two years before Ruby was born.

GILLIAM: I'm 93 and a half years old.

CORNISH: And that makes her the oldest delegate here. She traveled to Philly from Minerva, Ohio, and took the convention stage Monday night with the youngest delegate who's 17.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome delegates Ruby Gilliam from Ohio and Clarissa Rodriguez from Texas to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

RUBY GILLIAM AND CLARISSA RODRIGUEZ: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America...

GILLIAM: Well, it's almost like a dream come true to tell you the truth. When they called me and told me, though, that I was going to do the Pledge of Allegiance and there was nobody at home, I thought I'm going to burst. I'm going to burst, you know.

CORNISH: When we spoke to her, she was wearing her politics on a red straw hat with the donkey figurine on the very top, on the sides - buttons, a cut-out photo of the White House with President Obama and Vice President Biden glued right above. Ruby grew up in a home that was politically split, but she's always been a Democrat.

GILLIAM: All my life. I was born one.

CORNISH: She has three great grandchildren and four grandchildren. One of them recently asked her to explain the difference between the two parties.

GILLIAM: I said, well, Justin (ph), if you were lying in the street, a Republican would step over you, but a Democrat would reach down and pick you up and brush you off and help you. So that's what I told him (laughter).

CORNISH: Today marks the end of Ruby Gilliam's eighth convention.

GILLIAM: And I'm going to be here for 2020 also and beyond (laughter).

CORNISH: In November, she'll vote for the first woman to lead a major party ticket and celebrate her 94th birthday.

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