The South Carolina woman who came up with President-elect Barack Obama’s signature “Fired up, ready to go” campaign chant is coming to Washington.
“You know I would not miss it even if I were 6 feet under the dirt,” said Edith Childs, 60, of Greenwood, S.C.
She was invited by the official inaugural committee and plans to frame her 5-by-7-inch invitation.
I have written quite a bit about Childs, tracking her down in September 2007 as Obama was regularly telling the story about how she chanted, “Fired Up, Ready to Go,” and the chant became an unofficial creed for campaign staffers.
She learned the chant at an NAACP convention decades ago but gave it to Obama in June 2007.
Obama, then a longshot candidate, heard the Greenwood County Council member’s voice rise from the back of a tiny room when he was asking for votes from just a few dozen people.
He was in a foul mood but heard someone say, “Fired up?” And the crowd responded, “Ready to go!”
“My staff and I, we’re looking at each other, we don’t know what to do,” he would say on the stump. “But here’s the thing: After about a minute, I’m starting to feel kind of fired up. And I’m starting to feel like I’m ready to go.”
He said her story proves “the power of one voice to change the world.”
Childs told me a little-known story this week.
She told me she had trouble sleeping before the next time she was to see Obama. “If it’s two or four o’clock in the morning and I’m awake, I know the Lord has something to say to me,” she said, and that was the night she decided to change the words of the chant.
The lyrics were to “go out and vote” and then the date of the election. But when she saw Obama in Aiken that next day, she added: “Senator Obama, Senator Obama, will be, will be, our next president, our next president.”
“It just came into my spirit,” she said. “And after that I had no doubt in my mind. He would win.”
“I do what I believe in, and I believe in him,” she said.
She got to lead nearly 30,000 people in the chant at an Obama-Oprah Winfrey rally in Columbia, S.C., and also joined Obama onstage right before the primary — which he dominated — last January. Fox’s Bonney Kapp has a fun interview with her here.