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Longtime Democrat sees 50 years of DNCs

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Mary Groves Bland, 76, has been to nearly every Democratic National Convention for 50 years. (Source: Cecelia Hanley) Mary Groves Bland, 76, has been to nearly every Democratic National Convention for 50 years. (Source: Cecelia Hanley)
The obstructed view from Mary Groves Bland's seat. (Source: Cecelia Hanley) The obstructed view from Mary Groves Bland's seat. (Source: Cecelia Hanley)
Michelle Obama gave an inside look on her husband's presidency in her speech Tuesday. (Source: Cecelia Hanley) Michelle Obama gave an inside look on her husband's presidency in her speech Tuesday. (Source: Cecelia Hanley)

CHARLOTTE, NC (RNN) - Mary Groves Bland describes herself as life-long, career Democrat.

The 76-year-old Kansas City, MO, woman has been coming to the Democratic National Convention since she was about "25, maybe 26, and I may have missed two."

She has served as a delegate to other DNCs, but not the past few years. She wanted to give other people the experience she's had.

"I always think it's fair to give people an opportunity, when I've been so blessed," Groves Bland said.

However, she's not at the 2012 event alone. Her sister accompanied her to the arena, and her cousin, son and daughter-in-law – who is a delegate – are all in Charlotte.

Groves Bland attended the speeches Tuesday at the Time Warner Cable Arena but mostly wanted to hear Michelle Obama speak. She met the first lady at an appearance during the 2008 campaign.

"Because of her, I voted for him," she said.

Groves Bland also served in Missouri state government, both as a delegate and a senator. Despite her enjoyment of listening to speeches, she said she hated giving them when she was in office, preferring to speak to people one-on-one.

As she listened to the night's speakers, she corrected grammar if they tripped up reading the teleprompter. She then commented on who gave a thoughtful speech and who rallied the delegates.

San Antonio, TX, Mayor Julian Castro's description of his mother, who "fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone" resonated with Groves Bland. She said her mother worked hard to give her and her siblings a better life.

Although she had a great view of the stage, the large screen hanging over the center of the arena was blocked by scaffolding.

So seeing who was on screen, or the captions, was nearly impossible, and she planned to let someone know. Especially since her seat was in the handicapped-accessible area.

But she will be back Wednesday evening, even though she said she'll skip it. She always ends up going.

"I go to conventions to learn, and I don't want to miss something I need to know."

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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