People have asked me for the last two days, two questions, how do I feel about Barack Obama becoming our nation’s first African American President and did I ever think I would see this day. It is hard to answer those questions without telling my journey. When my brothers and I were growing up we were taught to have a love for God, pride in our family, our race and our country. We were taught to have a pride in our African roots long before the mini-series “Roots” came on television and we were taken to Black plays, museums, and basically anything that was about uplifting the race. I cannot remember ever going to school on Martin Luther King’s birthday, even before it was a holiday and black literature and art was always around the house. At the same time I was taught to pledge allegiance to the flag, stand when the National Anthem was played and taught that if I prayed and worked hard in this country I could be anything I wanted to be. I am not sure when but sometime between the ages of 11& 13 I decided I wanted to be President of the United states and to be quite honest I never thought I could not be. When I told my parents of my Oval office aspirations I was never told it was something I could not do I was just told to work hard, and do well school. I truly believe that my parents thought that I could be anything I wanted to be if I set my mind to it.
When I graduated from Elementary school in 1981 I was technically the Valedictorian of my twenty eight member class. I received the Kiwanis Scholarship Award (the first black in our district area), gave the graduation speech for our class and was voted by my classmates “ Most likely to succeed.” For our graduation presentation, which was attended by our family friends each student had to give a short speech on what he or she wanted to be when they grew up. I can remember what some of my classmates said that day, some wanted to be writers, professional sports players, and a couple wanted to be doctors or lawyers. Some aspirations were applauded and I can even remember the women cheering when one of the girls stated she wanted to be the first woman to play in the NBA. I was last one to speak and of course I my wish was to be President of the United States. After my career declaration the crowd of the mostly white audience laughed out loud, it was not a “oh that’s cute” laugh but it was the kind of laugh that people give a comedian after a good joke, and it was the kind of laugh that said “you are kidding right. that could never happen”.
I have not thought about that night in a very long time, that is until Tuesday night when the President elect gave his acceptance speech. Of course because of the choices I made I could never be President of the United States but growing up I never thought I could not, and in a different time with different choices and discipline I believe that I could have been. The truth is in my youth I DID think I would see this day because I dared to dream that somehow it would be me. But that dream will never be and now I will live it through Mr. Obama.
When The President-Elect decided to run for President I was in his corner from day one and never thought about voting for anyone else. I spent time on his campaign, went to the convention and tried to convince naysayers who at that time where many. I have listened to him, praised him when I thought he was right and criticized him when I thought he was wrong. The only time I felt his election was in trouble was during the Rev Wright episode. On a personal note I belonged to Rev. Wright’s church for a few years, and a great deal of family both on my Mother and Father’s side still belong to this church, and I will never forgive the press on how they treated this brilliant man, they owe him an apology. As much as I love Rev. Wright I questioned if Obama’s campaign could survive it, and told my brother if Obama could survive it, he would be the next President.
When many people express how they feel about this historic moment they mention King, Evers, Emmett Till, John Lewis and others. But my thoughts go back to the Africans who made that nightmare of a journey from the shores of Africa to America. These people were shackled, laid on top of each other in their own filth and by force taken to the unknown, and although an estimated 100 million died in the Middle Passage the ones that survived arrived in America to a nightmare that took a civil war to end. And even with all of that an African man from Kenya decided to come on his own accord to that same America and have a child with a white woman from Kansas and conceive a child that would one day be President.
I am in awe of this moment at this particular time and as I have told my family and friends it is a moment that could only come through the blood, sacrifice and dedication of many human beings and also by the blessing of God. But if you think you cried on Tuesday just wait until you see President Obama stand in front of the Capital put his hand on the Bible that Michelle will hold and those cute little girls by his side and take the oath of office, it will truly be a sight to behold. Who know Clarence Thomas may be the justice that administers the oath of office……….because we know that even now miracles still happen.