Melissa Link shares her personal testimony as if she were at a religious retreat. Standing on a table in front of 200 mostly young, white residents of this Southern college town, she explains how she came to believe and asks them to spread the message to the world.
The crowd erupts in applause and cheers wildly. But this isn’t a camp meeting or faith-based revival. She is endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders at the launch party for his campaign’s Athens field office.
“Don’t be ashamed, ever. And don’t be afraid, ever, to let people know what you believe. And share the truth about Bernie,” Link exclaims. “People have given up hope. They have totally given up hope … We need to restore that hope.”
It’s a scene that has repeated itself across this state and even the region.