Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The promised land

I first heard the name Barack Obama several years ago. Chris had been reading about the eloquent and stirring keynote speech he delivered at the 2004 Democratic Convention which sent ripples of excitement through the party and far beyond. He said to me "Watch this guy, he could be President one day."

Today is that day - one that we will look back on as a defining moment in our modern history.

When Barack Obama was born in 1961, most blacks in America were effectively barred from voting. In the short span of his - and my - life time, all that has changed. If you're as moved as I am by today's momentous election results, imagine how it must seem to those of previous generations who never thought that this day would come.

I was born a few months before JFK was assassinated and I was just an unaware child during the turbulent US civil rights movement and subsequent assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy that sent shock waves around the world. I grew up a wary Gen-Xer in the shadow of the seemingly shattered hopes and dreams of the 1960s. But those were not my burdens to carry. Those were not my lost ideals.

But after witnessing the appalling intellectual vacuum and embarrassing hyuck-hyuck comportment worn with pride by the Bush administration, I watched tonight's election returns with a heart full of hope and inspiration. I'm not American and I'm not black but, like millions of others, I feel drawn to this vision of a new era that President-Elect Obama offers. The promise of what we can be, what we can achieve, if we come together instead of circling the wagons.

Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk.
Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run.
Obama's running so we can all fly.
[Singer Jay-Z at a rally in Philadelphia]

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