Lots of politicos missed the independently minded African-American woman dropping some knowledge on an audience last night. No, not Michelle Obama, but Cynthia McKinney, the former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia and this year’s Green Party presidential candidate.

McKinney, perhaps best known for punching a Capitol police officer in 2006, spoke to a friendly crowd at the Mercury Café on August 25. She was joined by several local and state Green Party candidates, as well as “Peace Mom” Cindy Sheehan, who is apparently running for Congress as an Independent in San Francisco. Not to be confused with the first night’s speeches at the DNC, everyone who spoke at the Mercury wore a T-shirt.

McKinney has won over some registered Green Party voters (yes, they do exist) and Independents with her strong stances for impeachment of President Bush, against the war in Iraq, in support of the 9/11 “truth” movement, and other causes that few Congressional reps, past or present, would ever address. But some high (melo)drama preceded her visit to Denver with her running mate, Rosa Clemente. The two candidates announced their intentions to participate in Recreate ’68 rallies, despite state Green Party officials’ requests to steer clear of such events. A release from the campaign supporting Recreate ’68 fanned the flames.

“We were completely blind-sided,” says state Green Party co-chair Claire Ryder, who has weathered personal attacks online for urging the party to keep itself separated. “We don’t feel that participating in Recreate ’68 is the most positive reflection of the Green Party.”

Clemente also spoke at the Mercury, sharing an emotional account about getting the runaround at a private Democratic Party meeting earlier in the day. Clemente, a Bronx-born community organizer of Puerto Rican descent, said she was initially invited to speak at the event, attended by Angela Bassett, Danny Glover, Hill Harper (of “CSI: New York”), and other celebs. But when it came time for Clemente to address the group, organizers abruptly cut her off.

Clemente was tearful as she shared the experience but then got pretty fired up over social injustice in American inner cities and the U.S. government’s alleged role in the death of Tupac Shakur (another topic McKinney tried to address while she was in Congress).

The Green Party ticket will have to compete with Ralph Nader for third-party voters, and the two women of color could draw some would-be Obama supporters. But Colorado looks to be a rough patch of support as state party leaders are vowing to vote for someone other than McKinney.