Yesterday, history was made.
Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States.
As the results came in, as my state California helped to put Obama over the 270 electoral vote hump, I thought of my father. Of how he isn't alive to see this day. Yet this was a day that he told his sons would come. That they could be and do anything they wanted in America. If they worked hard enough. If they dreamed long and hard and true enough. Even the highest office in this land was not beyond the realm of possibilities for his African American sons.
I think Pop would have smiled and cried a little at what I saw, what the whole world saw last night.
Following Obama's lead, today begins the new work, the tough work of getting America back to being that shining place on the hill.
What strikes me is how I don't think many African Americans fully realize Obama's election asks of us to stand taller, to be better. Not to slam anyone directly, the last couple of decades have been a mixed bag for African Americans. Class divides have grown. A culture that has chosen to celebrate gold-plated, iced-up ghetto poverty as the model for success and behavior. And White America stood by and watched and made money off of such things and may have used these developments to anchor in better their negative feelings about black folk. Well, some of White America I should say, but not all.
And now, Obama stands tall and is on his way to the White House. Last night saw many African Americans celebrating their part in his victory. Today and tomorrow needs to see us doing more than celebrating. Now is the time for African Americans to ask more of themselves than ever before. We don't have the excuses any longer. Obama has shown us that. When his color and the cultural package that goes along with (paging Rev. Wright!) could have stopped him, Obama did not allow that. He encouraged all people of all colors to see him as an American coming out of an American history with an American story of blends and mixes of times and places and races. He was judged by the content of his character and not merely by the color of his skin, true to Rev. King's dream. And that raises the bar.
The days to come will be very interesting to live through. The challenges may be difficult but so will the rewards. If we are all willing to do the work.
Barack Obama is the new President of the United States.