The Day We All Made History
As the descendents of former share croppers and domestic servants, we carried the burden of claiming our ancestorâ€™s "40 Acres and a Mule" for some time. Though President-elect Barack Obama cannot amend the wrong this nation has done to a people; the audacity of helping elect a man of color into the White House was award enough.
[Election 2008: The Vote]
Words can’t describe the joy I felt in my heart on Election Day.
I knew we were on the dawn of history and I like so many folks of color, I felt restless. I guess our restlessness comes from carrying the burden - though much lighter - of being descendents of slaves.
As the descendents of former share croppers and domestic servants, we carried the burden of claiming our ancestor’s "40 Acres and a Mule" for some time. Though President-elect Barack Obama cannot amend the wrong this nation has done to a people; the audacity of helping elect a man of color into the White House was award enough.
This election was laced with so many promises and hope not just for African Americans but all people. Most importantly, it gives our children hope that they too can aspire to do the impossible.
This awesome sense of being a part of history was shared with neighbors as we, like millions of Americans all over these United States, got out of our beds at the crack of dawn to stand in long lines to cast a vote for a President that just so happens to be African American was quite moving.
Unlike our ancestors, we were not attacked by baton-wielding cops, angry dogs or fire hoses to intimidate us. Fortunately for us our legal right to vote was sealed by the blood of those who marched before us. Yet, we were nervous, as we anticipated casting our votes in what was sure a historical election. This shared anticipation was embraced by light chatter and pleasant conversations laced with hope.
There was the 30-something woman behind me who was embarrassed to admit that she was voting for the first time. Smiling neighborhood elders proudly shared their stories of the segregated South and tearfully relived those painful memories of barking dogs and police brutality.
After voting I was overwhelmed with a desire to do something, anything, to be part of the historical event. I went to Obama’s local Bedford Stuyvesant headquarters to volunteer. The attendant gave me some fliers to hand out at my polling station. When I returned, I was so amazed to see the steady stream of traffic of folks coming out to vote.
There were so many young folks; parents that brought their young children to be a part of this special occasion. One young man brought his sleepy five year old son. "Tell them what you did?" the father shouted. "Tell them how you pulled the level for Obama! O Bam A! O Bam A!"
Even misguided young men who spend countless hours on the corner made it to the polls. "Yo, did you vote yet son?" I heard one question a friend. "Yo kid don’t bring you’re sorry ass over here unless you vote fam."
My co-workers and I avoided following the news for fear of jinxing the process. After work, I roamed the city silently lifting up prayers asking God to keep a hedge of protection over Obama and his family. I then went to church to fellowship and pray.
Later, a friend and I headed over to Rockefeller Broadcast Plaza where there were four Jumbotron screens broadcasting the historical event. Upon entering the compound, souvenir maps were handed out explaining the Electoral College. On the back was a list of all the states with their corresponding electoral points.
As I watched the numerous tourists and people from various nationalities buzz around for a position to view this defying moment, I heard the voice of Harlem call and obediently answered. For this defying moment, I wanted to stand in the place Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. once stood.
I wanted to feel their spirit surround me as Senator Obama, ascended the proverbial mountaintop Dr. King had promised. So, we dashed towards the subway to catch the fastest train heading Uptown where we were greeted and embraced by a sea of people excited and anxious to lay their burden down.
The first results had already started coming in, placing Obama at around 170 electoral votes to McCain's two-digit tally. More Midwest states pored in, pushing McCain's numbers closer to 100 electoral votes. Then Pennsylvania came in with its 21 electoral votes going to Obama. The crowd roared.
Virginia followed declaring an additional 13 electoral votes for Obama. Ohio, another swing state swayed to Obama’s side with Florida prime to join it.
Then the clock began counting down the polls closing on the West coast where Obama was projected to sweep California, Nevada, his home state of Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Five – all eyes were transfixed on the Jumbotron screen; four – couples and family members began to embrace; three – lips tightened in anticipation; two –the moment of truth finally arrive; one - "CNN has projected SENATOR OBAMA THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES" flashed across the screen causing the crowd to let out a roaring cheer.
It has been over week and yet I still get choked up with joy. Tears flow freely down my cheek every time I relive that moment in time.
Our children have been given limitless hope and opportunity now that Senator Obama has cracked that glass ceiling. Yes, they too can be president of these Unites States. Yes, they too can dream their biggest dreams and accomplish their brightest goals.
Yes they can, yes they can. Yes they can.