I have been sitting on this draft since election night because I wasn’t sure how to express the joy I felt upon seeing Senator Barack Obama elected to the highest office in the land. Even though I know I have not adequately expressed the hopes, joys, fears and expectations that I have, I still feel the need to share my thoughts on this historic event…
How do I express the joy and the pride that is swelling within my heart right now? How do I put into words feelings that I haven’t yet begun to process? I’m not sure and I know that I won’t be able to do justice to the historic event that occurred tonight: the election of the first African American family to the White House. I say family because President-Elect Obama did not make this journey by himself. His beautiful wife, Michelle, and their two daughters walked beside him….sometimes, they walked for him.
As I listened to President-Elect Obama (I just cannot stop saying those sweet words) offer up his victory speech, I couldn’t help but to reflect on the nearly 4 centuries of history that has brought us to this point. Beginning with the arrival of the first African slaves on American soil in 1607 to this pivotal moment on election night; everything just came flooding to the forefront of my being. Perhaps I’m a bit more sensitive because I’ve just spent the last two weeks talking about slavery and not only how it brutalized African Americans but how it dehumanized slaveowners as well. Or maybe it’s because I live in an area where there are relatively few African Americans and I know what it’s like to hear the “n word” tossed about as casually as a worn blanket that is no longer pretty enough to adorn the bed but is still cozy enough to curl up with to watch tv. Whatever the reason, I cannot deny that I have been profoundly changed by what has taken place.
I never thought in my lifetime that I would see a black family occupying the White House. This presidential campaign is the apex of the Civil Rights Movement – blacks and whites, men and women, people of all religious backgrounds working together for a common cause. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that we have overcome all the obstacles in race relations, but I do think we have made a giant leap forward.
I can now look at my four babies, without pausing, and tell them that they can truly be anything that they want to be. They no longer have to aim for careers in athletics or entertainment in order to make it.
I know Bill Cosby became a lightning rod for criticism when he said what I’m about to say but I hope that parents (especially African American parents) will now start to stress the importance of education in their childrens’ futures. I pray parents will take this time to explain to their children the importance of this moment and how many doors are now open to them.
Most of all, I hope that we as a people do not squander this opportunity to heal wounds that have been festering since the unofficial end of the Civil Rights Movement. Whether you voted for him or not, he is our president and it is up to us as a nation to move this country forward and know without a shadow of a doubt that we can bring about change.