Take Me To Your Leader David Greene is taking an old fashioned road trip during the Democratic and Republican Conventions. But he isn't going to Denver or St. Paul — he's going to the hometowns of both candidates and many points in between in search of everyday people who are leaders in their communities.
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Take Me To Your Leader

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Take Me To Your Leader

Take Me To Your Leader

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Back now with Day to Day. And NPR's David Greene on the line with us. David, the political conventions are on. You're a White House correspondent. You've been covering all the campaigns. You must have a huge assignment.

DAVID GREENE: It's a great assignment. I am actually traveling the country, Alex, from Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago to John McCain's hometown of Phoenix, and stopping and just chatting with people.

CHADWICK: These aren't political candidates. You're not at the White House. You're not talking to the candidates. You're out talking to... who?

GREENE: Out talking to America. We're winding our way on this route. The point that they were trying to make is that there are different kinds of leadership. You know, all the leadership we'll be hearing about at the conventions these next couple of weeks, but the people out in the country, you know, have different definitions of leaders. I mean, they look to, perhaps, their bartender or perhaps their Boy Scout leaders. So we're asking people, you know, to talk about what leadership means to them and to point us to some people to speak with.

CHADWICK: And the name of the series, I love it, Take Me To Your Leader. You're going to these - so tell me about a stop where you said, take me to your leader.

GREENE: Well, we're keeping it pretty spontaneous. Like yesterday, you know, Sunday morning, we were in Gary, Indiana, which is a pretty hardscrabble city outside Chicago. And we drove by this church and, honestly, just had to slam on the brakes because we saw this sign outside. And so I'm jumping out of the car and stopping a church-member outside to ask her about it.

Ms. AIDA UPSHAW (Gary, Indiana Resident): I am Evangelist Prophetess Aida Upshaw (ph), and I'm standing in front of Zion Progressive Cathedral International Church, where the pastor is Norman J. Hairston, Junior.

GREENE: What's your sign read out there outside?

Ms. UPSHAW: Where will you spend eternity? Smoking or non-smoking?

GREENE: And so Aida Upshaw talks to me about the church's role in the community, their anti-smoking program for one thing, but outreach and youth activities. And she says the pastor's out of town, but that there's some other church officials who are inside.

Ms. UPSHAW: I could see if one of them will come out and talk to you.

GREENE: Yes, if someone could come out, that would be great.

So she leads me into the church, and there's a lot of activity in there. A youth worship is going on.

CHURCH SPEAKER: Why are we so bored when we look at Christian magazines, but we find it so easy to read the Playboy? I don't like this, y'all, I'm just reading it to (unintelligible).

GREENE: Thank you, oh thank you very much.

A woman named Sandra Younger sneaks out of the church to talk to me. She's assistant to the pastor. She says Gary is a city that's had it hard.

Ms. SANDRA YOUNGER (Gary, Indiana Resident): A lot of the challenges of Gary is that there is a spirit of hopelessness, helplessness, depression. But that was then, and this is now, and it's a new day in Gary. You know, I see opportunities that are going to open up because God hasn't taken his eye off of this city.

GREENE: Are you paying attention to the convention this week? I mean, is that something - is that going to help inspire people in Gary?

Ms. YOUNGER: Will it inspire them? It will probably give them a sense of hope that there are possibilities. But I think the only thing that's going to inspire this city is a turn back to God. Is it going to be important who our next president is? Yes, as it pertains to whether or not he's going to listen to the voice of God and let God lead him and guide him.

CHADWICK: So, David, your leader there is God. I guess you're going to be hearing a lot of different definitions of leadership.

GREENE: Definitely. You know, I met a gentleman in Gary who said his wife is his leader. We've had people talk about their mayors. So we're getting all sorts of different answers.

CHADWICK: And how is it that you're getting across the country? Are you in a, like a rented Greyhound or something?

GREENE: I wish. We thought about an RV, but actually, right now, we're in an SUV, and we're calling it our command center. Our laptops are running away while we're on the road, and it's me, our producer Thomas Pierce - and he's been blogging a lot about the trip on our election blog at npr.org. And we've got a photographer, David Gilkey, taking a ton of photos, especially of some of the food that we've been eating. And so - and any of our listeners who actually want to tell us where to go, Alex, they can shoot us an email anytime at meetyourleaders@npr.org. So they should reach out to us.

CHADWICK: And the route is Chicago to Phoenix, stopping all along that way. Listeners, help David. The address again, David?

GREENE: meetyourleaders - one word - @npr.org.

CHADWICK: David Greene on the road. Thanks, David.

GREENE: Thanks, Alex.

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