11 November 2008


With the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, I feel that America has taken a great forward leap to fulfilling its promise made long ago and kept alive, sometimes dimly, through several centuries.

Thus, I see the election of Barack Obama, a black American as President, as a historical moment that is consumation of a long wait, a waiting that fulfills the hope of an experiment. The American experiment--never assured of success--has always been that all Americans would have a chance to effect their potential.

It is difificult for me to express my personal feelings about Sen. Obama ascending to the highest office in the land and arguably the most important in the world. Having grown up in a small southern town in the 1950s and '60s, where and when prejudicial attitudes were the norm, I, too, living in that racist milieu, was a child racist, or at least I breathed the air of institutional and social racism and accepted it as normal.

The historical moment of Obama's election was so palpable to me that it felt as if several time-space cycles phased in together at the precise moment that they were "destined" to take place. It felt like a completion, an old promise fulfilled for America generally and for me personally. When I saw Barack Obama embrace his running mate Joe Biden on stage at the end of Obama's victory speech on election night, it seemed much more than two election winners celebrating, it seemed to be the apotheosis of that centuries-old promise, of racial reconciliation. Again, it was also my completion, and my apotheosis.

We, as a people, living in the present, have become more of what "we"--envisioned for us 220 years ago by America's Founders--promised ourselves. It was a Covenant that could not be fulfilled during those long years. The Promise had to be kept (barely) alive through centuries of slavery, through turmoil of the Civil War, through dark days of Jim Crow, through struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, and through years of resignation that matters would not change.

I am speaking of hope, the hope that was the vision of the Founders. That hope and vision were that America could become, one day, the land of equal opportunity, the land of the free, the land of hope, and the place where people could dream of fulfilling their dreams. Now, with the advent of a "black" man to the highest office in the land, that hope is now reality.

America has now taken a giant step to realizing its potential. The election of Obama is the fulfillment, a historical moment, when America has now become more of itself. America has become more of what it has always promised. America has been waiting to become more America. That moment has arrived.

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