A Georgian’s guide to watching the virtual Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention is not just a business meeting to coronate Joe Biden as a presidential nominee. It is a four-day pep rally intended to fire up the base and persuade voters to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in November.

That helps explain why Georgia, whose changing demographics have made it more competitive for Democrats, is playing a prominent role in the convention that starts Monday. Several Peach State residents received coveted speaking slots, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, an Atlanta-based pastor, a music superstar and even a MARTA bus driver.

A tribute to Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who died last month, is scheduled for Thursday.

Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is pulling double-duty. She and 16 others will jointly deliver the convention keynote address on Tuesday night. Georgia state Rep. Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville, is also among this group of “rising stars.”

On Thursday, Abrams is hosting a Biden campaign voter protection rally that will also champion the Democratic-led elections bill that was recently named after Lewis.

Natasha Taylor received local media attention when she shared safety concerns as a frontline worker during the coronavirus pandemic. Active with the local union, she will use her convention time to share why she believes Biden is best prepared to meet the challenges of COVID-19.

“As a bus driver and member of the ATC Local 732, I go to work every day, afraid for my health, and ultimately the health of my family and fellow transit workers because of the pandemic,” Taylor said in a statement the day news broke she would be speaking. “We need a president who cares about regular, everyday people — like Joe Biden.”

DNC organizers have not said which day Taylor’s speech or the Lewis tribute will be aired. Yates speaks on Tuesday and Bottoms is slated for the final night.

Bishop William Murphy III, the lead pastor of Atlanta’s The dReam Center Church, is among the religious leaders on the program for an interfaith service at 1 p.m. Sunday that will stream on YouTube.

Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.‘s youngest child, is a featured guest at a DNC event on Thursday morning titled, “MLK’s Economic Dream: Guaranteed Income as a response to Poverty and the Covid-19 Pandemic.”

Atlanta’s Jermaine Dupri will DJ during the pre-show Thursday, the convention’s final night. These 8 p.m. events, titled “Behind The Rhyme presents Your Voice Your Vote,” all feature performances and special appearances exclusively on Twitch, a video streaming service popular with gamers, a nod to Democrats’ attempts to appeal to younger voters.

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This party convention, like the previous ones, brings together delegates from all 50 states and seven U.S. territories the summer prior to the presidential election to handle party business and fete its biggest stars. Unlike other years, because of the pandemic Joe Biden won’t be in a packed arena and the delegates will be home watching on television and computer screens.

However, this virtual convention also creates new viewing opportunities for people at home to watch more of the proceedings than ever before. The networks will still broadcast “prime-time programming” each night, and C-SPAN will continue to offer “gavel to gavel” coverage like it has since 1984.

This year, however, the Democratic Party is allowing the public to create their own view-from-home schedule to livestream various daytime events hosted on the DemConvention.com website. No longer is the viewing experience dependent on which of the numerous press conferences, caucus meetings and delegation gatherings are prioritized by network and event producers.

For example, the Rural Caucus, Seniors Council and LGBTQ Caucus are all meeting at noon Tuesday. All are open to the public with an RSVP on the convention site. And if people want to skip over to the Muslim Delegates Assembly meeting at 12:30 p.m., they can.

How to watch:

The broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS — have scheduled at least one hour of prime-time coverage each night.

The cable networks — CNN, FOX News and MSNBC — and the broadcast networks’ streaming platforms will have several hours of coverage each evening.

C-SPAN will broadcast and stream all official DNC activities for the duration of the convention.

Speeches and other events will stream on the DemConvention.com website, the Democratic National Convention app, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

For daytime meetings, caucuses and other events, consult the full schedule on DemConvention.com and RSVP if necessary.

Daily highlights during the prime-time bloc:

Monday: The national anthem will be sung remotely by a 57-member youth choir that includes a yet-to-be-identified Georgia representative. Scheduled speakers include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the veteran South Carolina congressman credited with saving Biden’s campaign; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the runner-up to Biden in the primary; and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Tuesday: The night will kick off with the “Roll Call Across America,” 30-second videos highlighting each state and territory sending delegates and replacing the in-person roll call that is a pageantry-filled staple of past conventions. Stacey Abrams and Georgia state Rep. Sam Park are among 17 individuals jointly giving the night’s keynote address. Georgia’s Sally Yates, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former President Bill Clinton and Jill Biden, Joe’s wife, are also speaking.

Wednesday: Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is scheduled to perform. The slate of speakers includes U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. senator and Biden running mate Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama.

Thursday: “MLK’s Economic Dream: Guaranteed Income as a response to Poverty and the Covid-19 Pandemic,” begins at 11 a.m. and features Dr. Bernice King. Stacey Abrams will host a Biden campaign rally that will also promote passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Jermaine Dupri is the featured DJ of “Behind The Rhyme presents Your Voice Your Vote” at 8 p.m. Country group The Chicks, John Legend and rapper Common are slated to perform. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, one of Biden’s earliest and most prominent surrogates, is speaking that night as part of the tribute to Congressman John Lewis. Other speakers include former presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Michael Bloomberg and Andrew Yang. Biden closes out the convention with his acceptance address.

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