In addition to Michelle Obama ’85, primetime speakers from the first night included former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
Warren said the presidential election is about remaining united.
“When we turn against each other, we can’t fight back against a rigged system,” she said. At the outset of the Convention, Sanders delegates set the tone for the night by interrupting speeches and even the invocation with chants of “Bernie! Bernie!”
She added that the election is about the nation's shared values.
“We believe that no matter who you are, where you’re from or who you love, equal means equal,” Warren said.
The idea of an election reflecting how the nation wishes to portray itself was another theme that appeared in several of the speeches.
“For me this choice is personal, it’s about who we are as people... it’s about what kind of country we want to be,” Warren said.
Warren made note of the numerous renowned speakers during the Convention’s first night in the beginning of her speech and then focused on income inequality and the rigged system.
“There’s a lot of wealth in America, but it isn’t trickling down to hardworking families,” she said.
After Warren’s remarks, Sanders noted that in these stressful times in the country, the election must be about bringing people together andnot dividing them up.
“This election is about—must be about—the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and our grandchildren,” Sanders said.
Hespoke abouthis supporters and the campaign’s important “historical contributions,” such as an “unprecedented eight million individual campaign donations.”
Sanders asked the Convention what the average contribution was and he received a deafening response of “27 Dollars!”
Addressing his supporters, Sanders added that he was the most disappointedabout the outcome of the primaries, but that they must continue and elect Clinton.
“Together my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution continues,” he said.
To that end, Sanders noted that he thought Clinton should be the next president “based on her ideas and her leadership.”
He frequently noted that Clinton “is listening” and that “she understands” but that Democrats must regain control of the House and the Senate to execute change.
“We can all agree that much, much more needs to be done,” he said.
Sanders’ speech mentioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, income inequality, big banks, minimum wage and billionaire tax breaks.
“The economic, social, racial and environmental justice struggle continues,” Sanders said.
Booker’s speechhearkened back to the days of Philadelphia as the nation’s capital and how the ideas of the founders live on.
“I believe we are an even greater nation, not because we are smart and perfect but because every generation has labored to make us a more perfect union,” Booker said. “Our values purport a declaration of independence but they also made a story of interdependence.”
Booker emphasized that in a diverse nation, tolerance isn’t enough—it’s the “wrong way.”
“When we are indivisible, we are invincible,” he said.
He added that in America at its best, citizens stand up to bullies and fight those who seek to demean and degrade other Americans.
“You can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and countrywomen,” he said. “We are called to be a nation of love.”
Gabriela Ros, Puerto Rico district delegate, said that she thinks the Bernie and Hillary ideologiesare still very divided.
“The whole activity today was kind of uncomfortable... it was all ‘Hillary, Hillary, Hillary,' but we still haven’t gotten to the point where we’ve actually voted and Hillary comes out,” she said.
She added thatshe believed more transparency would improve relationswithin the Democratic Party.
“For me, if Hillary had actually won fair and square, I’d be fine,” Ros said. “Of course I’d be sad but there was so much fraud.”
Other speakers included New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota Senator Al Franken and Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr.