Monday, January 19, 2009


Martin Luther King, Jr.Image via Wikipedia
Tomorrow, the first "African-American" (really biracial) President will be sworn into office. Not only that, but the first President younger than I am will be sworn in.  I keep seeing it on television.  I hear him called the President elect.  I watch the inaugural celebrations already taking place. But, somehow, I can't quite take it all in.

I'm a child of the 60s.  Born during a time of social upheaval but, a lot of hope.  I'm too young to remember much about Martin Luther King, Jr.  But, I'm old enough to remember "they" shot him.  I didn't grow up under Jim Crow.  But, I know people who did.  By the time I came along, most systematic, legalized racism had been eliminated.  But, we were left with racism in the hearts of many and laws will never change people's hearts. I think most black people wondered if MLK's dream of judging a man based on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin would be actually fulfilled in our lifetimes.  

I still remember watching over the web as Obama stood on the steps on a cold February morning almost two years ago and announced his candidacy.  I was curious about him at that point, having heard a little about him and one simply amazing speech at the DNC Convention a couple of years earlier.  Even though I got caught up in the Obamania and grew more impressed with him the more I learned about him, even thought I worked on his campaign and tried to convince everyone I came into contact wit to vote for him, something in the back of my mind said "This will never happen.  'They' will never allow this man to win the election.".  When the Reverend Wright story broke, I thought to myself "That's it.  That's the excuse white America needs to dismiss Obama."  I knew that, as a black man he had to run a campaign like no other to break through the barriers.  I knew that, as a black man (or woman), you don't have to do things as well as your peers to get to the same place, you have to do twice as well.  I knew it would take a flawless campaign for Obama to even have a chance of winning and I just knew that would be the end of him.  But, I was wrong.

Even today, as I sit here thinking when I wake up 48 hours from now, America will have it's first multi-racial, multi-cultural leader it just hasn't really sunk in yet.  It has a very surreal feel to it.  I feel like I'm in a dream and any minute I'm going to wake up and have that sinking feeling you have when you've just awakened from a great dream back into plain old reality. 
Don't get me wrong.  I don't think that on Wednesday morning, the economy will be fixed, America will have universal healthcare and we'll have world peace.  Quite the contrary.  I think Obama will be a good President and I'm confident that, over time, he'll do really good (maybe great) things. But, he's facing some amazing challenges and he's going to have very impatient Obamaphiles criticizing him very soon and the Obama haters criticizing him on day one.  Tomorrow, everything will change and nothing will change.  To me, this election marked a fundamental shift in our consciousness. I think we had a very clear choice between the politics of fear and the politics of hope. We had one party offering again to "keep us safe" and the other party offering us the opportunity to change the world.  I have to say I was pleasantly stunned to see us choose hope over fear and I am hopeful that we will soon reap the fruits of that choice.  But, it will not be an easy road.  We've got many challenges ahead of us.  There will be stumbles and setbacks.
Tomorrow, I plan to go to Champp's and watch the inauguration with the other dreamers in West Chester.  If you're there and you see me pinching myself, you'll know why.
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kc bob said...

I liked this Brian:

"Tomorrow, everything will change and nothing will change."

I feel a change in the spirit of our nation.. a change born in the hearts of people like you. I pray that, on this day that we celebrate the birth of a great man, Dr King's dream will advance in surreal ways that none of us can imagine.

Don said...

My best friend and I have talked about the changes we have noticed over the past few years. We have both agreed that this president-elect (until tomorrow) may be exactly what the world needs right now. I haven't been as optimistic, in the face of the current crises everywhere else, in many years. Of course, I haven't been on a journey defining God's unconditional love very long. It seems to me things are coming together for something very good!

Anonymous said...

I am so very happy we were all here to see this day. What happens next is not written in the cards, it is up to each and every one of us, just as the election was! I'll be praying for Obama and his family, and for everyone else in this world.

BTW, very congenial post on Bush... I thought you said some very good things there. For all of the thoughts I've had in the past 8 years, I actually waved a very nice man goodbye today, and like you, want him to live a good, happy life.

Davis said...

This is a wonderful thing. I don't think we can even imagine how much this will change our perceptions of what it is to be an American.

God bless the new president.