Wednesday, November 5, 2008
A Smile on Camelot
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
God Bless America
Barack Obama put a smile on the faces of many Americans, and even a smile on the face of an old sourpuss like me.
As I sat with my old schoolmate Bob Ray Sanders, assistant editor of the Star-Telegram, we reflected on the times, from our coming up together in the old segregated school system to the historic moment of Barack Obama’s victory speech. We were like two old black men from another time and another era. As we sat stoic and proud, the emotional atmosphere was only a distant echo. We just talked, one black man to another, about what this 2008 Election meant to us, our children, and the nation.
Red haired and freckled, always Bob Ray, he confessed what we both felt. “I can’t afford to let my emotions get too high or too low over occasions like this,” he said, as we waited and watched the television for Barack Obama to appear.
I was reminded of what so many people have asked me lately: “Did you ever believe that you would see the day?” It makes me always think, “What’s the big deal? It’s just another epic historic occasion.” Both Bob Ray and I had seen our share over time. And, after all, Obama’s win was not totally unexpected.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had foretold of a day he saw in a dream, when the nation would judge a man by the content of his character, instead of the color of his skin. We had always looked forward to that day and believed, in our hearts, that we would live to see it. So, what’s the big deal?
We were at the victory celebration in downtown Fort Worth at the Hilton Hotel, which was formerly known at the Texas Hotel, the place where President John F. Kennedy spent his last night, November 21, 1963. I remembered, as teenagers, we were there that night when Kennedy came to town. We saw his caravan. We saw our little city decorated in yellow lights. We saw him get out of his limousine. We saw him wave to the crowd and disappear into the hotel. We heard rumors that he slept on the top floor, the 15th floor, where all the local candidates waited to make their victory or concession speech.
On this historic night, state senate candidate Wendy Davis would occupy the coveted presidential suite, with its replica presidential gold seal hanging on the wall with pictures of that day in November when Kennedy came to town.
Who didn’t know that there would be cheers and tears of joy by the time this night was over? But the greater jubilation was the realization we, as a people, had overcome. Even an old sourpuss had reason to smile. It is the smile of a black man that says, “At last, I am somebody. I can now exhale. I can breathe. I have a presence. I have a voice. The days of Richard Wright’s “Invisible Man” are over.
Out of the blue, a phone caller reminded me to write about this night and this magnanimous occasion. The caller called it “a miracle”. In so many words, she said, “The shackles are off the black man. There are no more excuses. There are no limits to stop black men from achieving their dreams and goals.”
It was a miracle, indeed, in the mind’s eye of the beholder. For a battle-worn and weary soldier, November 4th signified relief. Like my schoolmate, my giddy days we over. I cannot afford to let my emotions rise too high nor sink too low, except to recognize that it is time to turn the page on race relationships, get on to the business of healing the wounds of a divided nation, fixing the national economy, and solving our social problems.
Indeed, there is much work to be done. But my work will be a labor of love, because now I have a voice. I have a presence. I am somebody, too.
Congratulations to our President Elect Barack Obama!
This indeed a very historical night, and I thank God for allowing me to live to see this day! I am so excited about this victory. It means so much to me, as well as to so many others. It means the world to our nation.
President Elect Obama won by a landslide tonight. This is very telling. America is FINALLY ready for change, and ready to open its self up to the potential that is present in all of us.
Tonight, America showed that ALL children, all people, can do and be whatever they want to do or be. Some areas are not just reserved for White Americans. Tonight, Barack Obama proved this.
I have been crying all night. I’ve cried so hard, and uncontrollably. I am so happy to see this. It has really happened! The reality hit me so hard and it was overwhelming. I screamed, I shouted, and I cried deep from the heart in praise and gratitude to God.
Yes, it’s been a long time coming. Now, the real work begins. We have to stick together and work together to assure that we do right by all of those who fought long and hard to make this possible!
Yes, we can!