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Dems Make History While Running Gamut of Emotions

Bill Clinton
AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster

Serious moments alternated with humorous ones as the Democrats officially nominated Hillary Clinton and her husband touted her change-making abilities.

It was a history-making day Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention, as Hillary Clinton officially became the first woman nominated for U.S. president by a major party, and her husband closed the evening by speaking about the real woman versus the "made-up" version he said Republicans presented.

At the end of the roll call of delegates for each state, Clinton's rival in the primaries, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, asked that she be declared the nominee. "I move that all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record, and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States," he said after she had won a majority of delegates but before her nomination had been announced.

The move recalled -- somewhat -- a moment during the 2008 roll call, when Clinton, who had challenged Barack Obama for the nomination, asked for the roll call to be stopped and that Obama be nominated for president.

Some of Sanders's supporters still are not happy with the choice of Clinton, despite his calls for party unity in the name of defeating Republican nominee Donald Trump. But Tuesday the party marshaled plenty of star power, from both politics and show business, on Clinton's behalf. The evening climaxed with a keynote address by her husband, former President Bill Clinton; an appearance by multi-Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep; and a performance by Alicia Keys.

Earlier, delegates heard Clinton's qualifications touted by a diverse selection of supporters, including former Attorney General Eric Holder; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; actors Elizabeth Banks, Debra Messing, Lena Dunham, America Ferrera, and Tony Goldwyn; former President Jimmy Carter (by video); Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards; and, in one of the evening's best-received segments, Mothers of the Movement, African-American women who've lost children to gun violence or excessive use of force by police.

"This isn't about being politically correct. This is about saving our children," said Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, the Florida youth shot to death in 2012 by neighbor George Zimmerman, who claimed Martin had attacked him and ended up being found not guilty of any crime. Some have accused Zimmerman of racially profiling Martin and shooting him for that reason.

"Hillary Clinton isn't afraid to say that black lives matter," added Lucia McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was killed in 2012 by Michael Dunn, who had argued with Davis and his friends over the volume of the music they were playing. Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.

And Geneva Reed-Veal, whose daughter Sandra Bland died a year ago while in police custody, read the names of women who had met similar fates that month, then said, "Hillary knows that when a young black life is cut short, it's not just a personal loss. It is a national loss. It is a loss that diminishes all of us."

Many of Tuesday's speakers praised Clinton's work on behalf of women and children throughout her career -- as a lawyer with the Children's Defense Fund, as first lady, as a U.S. senator from New York, and as secretary of State. Some also mentioned her work for LGBT rights.

There was some humor, especially in an exchange between Dunham and Ferrera:

Dunham: Hi, I'm Lena Dunham, and according to Donald Trump, my body is probably a two.

Ferrera: And I'm America Ferrera, and according to Donald Trump, I'm probably a rapist.

Dunham: You're not Mexican.

Ferrera: And President Obama isn't Kenyan, but that hasn't stopped Donald.

Banks got laughs when she noted the similarities between Trump and her Hunger Games character, Effie Trinket, who wears wild wigs and hosts a reality TV show. And former presidential hopeful Howard Dean roused the crowd when he ended his presentation with a scream recalling the one that sunk his campaign in 2004.

But on the serious side, speakers discussed Clinton's advocacy for health care and education, her work against human trafficking, and her declarations that women's rights and LGBT rights are unequivocally human rights.

Bill Clinton invoked those statements, saying of his wife, "She worked to empower women and girls around the world and to make the same exact declaration on behalf of the LGBT community in America and around the world." He also touted her successful effort to bring lifesaving drugs to people with AIDS in poor countries, greatly reducing the number of deaths. She is "a real change-maker," he said.

The former president did live up to his reputation for long speeches, spending about 40 minutes tracing his relationship with his wife from 1971, when they met in law school, to the present day, although the crowd generally responded well. When he first spotted her in a class, "she had a sense of strength and self-possession that I found magnetic," he said. He mixed personal details with discussion of her career, then contrasted the woman he presented with the one vilified at last week's Republican National Convention.

"How do you square it?" he said. "You can't. One is real, the other is made up." He later told the delegates, "Good for you, because earlier today you nominated the real one."

After Bill Clinton closed, Streep came on to pay homage to pioneering American women, such as Deborah Sampson, who fought in the Revolutionary War disguised as a man, and Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and many others. Hillary Clinton, like them, has the "grit and grace" needed to make a difference, Streep said.

After Alicia Keys performed, dedicating "Superwoman" to Mothers of the Movement, the nominee appeared on video. She celebrated breaking the glass ceiling and told little girls watching her, "I may be the first woman president, but one of you is next." Watch below.

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