What an Obama Presidency Means To Me

Growing up the oldest of seven in Brooklyn I always envisioned a life that was very different than what was around me. I grew up with a considerable amount of responsibility. I was lucky to have a strong support system that included my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother. They instilled in me values that have made me the kind of man I am today. Unfortunately the positive male influences that I needed from my family was not always present. I internalized this and continued to strive to be the male influence that I wanted to see around me and needed in my life. I did not see strong male leaders, so I became one. I did not see academically successful men, I became one. I did not see men who were actively involved in making the world a more equal and just place, so again I became one. I did this not only for myself, but also for my siblings and family.

I studied the lives of successful black male leaders. Men like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Thurgood Marshall just to name a few. The question I always asked was where was the new generation of leadership that can transcend some of the racial barriers that these men tried to overcome. I could never find anyone alive that truly inspired me.

Then came the summer of 2004. As I was watching the keynote address of the Democratic National Convention I was taken aback by the speech of Senate candidate Barack Obama. I remember sitting next to my grandmother and remarking at how good this guy was. I followed his race and was impressed with his historical run. I always felt that he had the skill to one day be the political force that had become.

Fast forward to tonight. I awoke this morning at 5am to get to my voting booth by 5:30. By the time I got there there were already people on hand ready to vote. I felt the "righteous wind at our back" at that moment. Coming home I ran into many people who all asked the same question: Did you vote? From the single mother raising children, to the drug dealers on the corner, to those too young to vote, to the elderly, there was something about this election at this time at this moment that people felt a part of. As I sat home and saw the results trickle in I felt that a transformative moment was at hand. And when 11:00 reached and Obama clinched the victory, I could not help but cry. Cry for the generation that died, cried, bled and led us to the moment at hand. Cried for my grandmother's generation who may not have many presidential elections left and cried for my generation because the mantle of equality was no longer a myth. It was being practiced.

What I am amazed at the most is that it was a campaign that was not about black people, it was about American people. I felt in my heart that race (for at least one day) did not matter. Here was Barack Obama, a man who four years ago delivered a speech in Boston, who eight years ago couldn't get credits to sit on the floor of the Democratic convention, assuming the position of the highest office in the world. Here was a man that included every race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and socioeconomic class into his campaign. And he did this not because he wanted to win, but because he wanted to create a movement for a new kind of America. An America that people of my generation can truly feel we belong in. As I took it all in received calls from friends from all over our United States of America, the most important call came from my brother. He asked me did we win. I said yes we did and then he told me how proud he was. At that moment I knew that the words that Obama uttered in the end rung true:
"This is our moment. This is our time ...to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth -- that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can!"


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