Quincy Lucas always carries a scarf when talking to people about domestic violence. The multicolored garment belonged to Lucas’ sister, Dr. Witney Rose, who wore it when she graduated from medical school. When Rose was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2003, Lucas kept the scarf as a reminder of how precious her sister was to her. Lucas had that scarf when she took to the podium and nominated Delaware Sen. Joe Biden for vice president Aug. 27, during the third night of the Democratic National Convention
Quincy Lucas always carries a scarf when talking to people about domestic violence.
The multicolored garment belonged to Lucas’ sister, Dr. Witney Rose, who wore it when she graduated from medical school. When Rose was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2003, Lucas kept the scarf as a reminder of how precious her sister was to her.
Lucas had that scarf when she took to the podium and nominated Delaware Sen. Joe Biden for vice president Aug. 27, during the third night of the Democratic National Convention.
“I try to wear it to all of my speaking engagements to remember her and to keep her close,” she said.
‘I wanted that moment to slow down’
Lucas used her personal pain to help others, establishing a scholarship in Witney’s name and working to teach youngsters how to curb violence in their communities. Although she had never met Biden in person, her name came up when workers with Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign were looking for a Delawarean to place Biden’s name in nomination for the second spot on the ticket.
Biden drafted the landmark 1994 Violence Against Women Act, and has been known for his efforts in curbing domestic abuse.
Lucas teaches fourth grade at Silver Lake Elementary School, but lives with her husband, Dr. Kevin Lucas, and their two sons and a daughter, in Dover.
She first got wind of what was in store for her with a call from the Delaware Domestic Violence Coalition while standing in line at the Dover Wal-Mart.
“They said, ‘Quincy, is there any way you’d consider speaking to the Democratic National Convention?’” she recalled. “I said, ‘Who is this?’”
Within six hours, she’d gotten two more calls, the last confirming her selection.
“I was pretty much taken aback after that,” she said.
“We were ecstatic,” said Kevin. “We were so proud of her. But then everything got hectic very quickly.”
After additional discussions with DNC staff and speechwriters, who consulted her on what she wanted to say, Lucas, her mother, Dorothy Dixon and 14-year-old daughter Victoria, were on a plane the next morning, bound for Denver.
Once she got there, the whirlwind of activity going on around her brought home the reality of what was happening.
Picked up at the airport, Lucas was assigned a staff of four including a personal driver and two “speaker trackers” whose job it was to make sure she got to where she was supposed to be. After a short stop at her hotel, she was on her way to the convention center, where she was to speak at about 10:30 that night.
“There was lots of heavy security, lots of credentialing to go through,” she said. “Then I had to go get my hair and makeup done, meet with delegates and do interviews.
“Then it was back into hair and makeup before going out on the floor,” Lucas said, adding she had shared the makeup room with former presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, whom she found warm and friendly.
Asked to keep her attire simple, Lucas chose a blue suit and a single string of pearls – and, of course, Witney’s scarf.
Waiting backstage, she met a number of dignitaries in the Democratic Party, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose job it was to ask convention delegates to approve Lucas’ nomination of Biden.
“She was so awesome,” Lucas said of Pelosi. “She said, ‘Quincy, thanks so much for doing this.’ Right then, I had no idea who she was, but I ended up standing with her during [Beau Biden’s] and Sen. Biden’s speeches.”
Then, before she knew it, her moment arrived.
Lucas thought she’d be nervous, but taking the podium realized her emotions were just the opposite.
“I felt calm, like I wanted that moment to slow down,” she said. “I wanted to savor every moment and to take it all in. As I was reading, I wanted to look around and take in every bit of this awesome experience.”
With three huge television screens broadcasting her image and name to millions, Lucas spoke for two minutes, finishing with a loud, spontaneous cheer for Biden.
But although her final words meant her time in the limelight was over, there still was much to experience.
Lucas was handed a special invitation to a private party for Biden later that night, where she, Dixon and Victoria finally met the senator and got to chat with Michelle Obama.
But Victoria’s first impression of the senator’s wife was a surprise.
“She’s very tall,” said the 5 foot 2 inch Victoria. “She’s extremely tall. And she was very nice. When I saw her I thought, ‘How many times do you get to meet the next first lady?’”
Thursday night Lucas was in Mile High Stadium to hear Obama’s acceptance speech. She listened to people tell of the impact the Illinois senator had on their lives, and in turn told as many people as she could about the First State.
And then it was over. Lucas, Dixon and Victoria returned to Delaware Friday night, tired but at the same time energized.
‘It was just – Wow’
“I’m still pretty much on Cloud Nine,” Lucas admitted. “I’m really excited to have been a part of this. It’s just beginning to sink in how much of an opportunity it was to be asked to go.”
While she was in Denver, her family also got a bit of time in the local media spotlight, Kevin said. His neighbors and co-workers kept stopping by and congratulating him, and when he arrived at work he found copies of newspaper articles about his wife taped just about everywhere.
Watching Lucas on television Wednesday night was almost a surreal experience, he added.
“It was amazing to see her, she was just beautiful,” he said. “Words cannot describe how proud I was of her.
“Up until I saw her on TV, I was thinking, ‘This is just a dream and something will happen, and she won’t be on.’ But there she was. It was just – Wow.”
Lucas plans to use the experience to help her students better relate to the election news they see on television every night.
“I think sometimes students have trouble learning because concepts or events are out of their reach,” she said. “With this, they’ll have a connection and hopefully a long lasting one that will make things clearer to them.”
And Lucas will continue working to keep Witney’s memory alive.
“I’m going to use this momentum to keep talking about my thoughts on domestic violence,” she said. “I feel empowered to keep pressing along.”
“In my lifetime, I may not have an opportunity like this again.”
Email Jeff Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org