Millions of Americans of all races, colors and ethnic groups are celebrating Barack Obama's presidential victory. But for many of our parents, grandparents and even some of us who grew up experiencing discrimination and prejudice, the election of the first African American President is an overwhelming event that some never thought they would see in their lifetimes.
We are inheritors of this momentous victory, but it was not ours. The laurels properly belong to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of the other martyrs who died for civil rights. And to millions more before them who struggled across centuries and fell short of winning their freedom. And to those rare politicians, civil rights activist and leaders who stood up bravely in a decisive time and believed that one day true change would come and that one day my people would stand in collective pride, we owe all of them for this moment.
Always reflect and think back to last night(Nov, 4th 2008) as we all felt nagging tension, even when we were fairly sure of the outcome, then it happened, each of us watched as we saw Ohio and NM go to Obama, we all knew he had won it.
And suddenly we all felt the ecstatic elation as we realized all our hopes and dreams had come to this momentous point in time....
That was the moment that I realized it wasn't about Obama. It was about what he represented. He represented a culmination of hundreds of years of struggle, and death, and pain - and hope. He represented a break in history - there is now a "before", and an "after." He represents the "after" that strong African American people like my deceased grandparents had planted the seeds of hope for, even as they strived to survive the harsh prejudice of Jim Crow.
Suddenly I felt tears of pride and joy well up in my eyes as I realized that someone like me, with brown skin such as mine had seized the crown and transcended and shattered the glass ceiling of race and prejudice.
I will remember and hold dear the moment, the feelings and the wonder.
My people I say to each of you that anything is suddenly possible and all goals are ours to conquer and the only limitations are those that are self imposed.
The long journey that started all those years ago within the dark bowels of those slave ships, whose very decks were stained with the blood of our ancestors, the same blood that flows through each of us, joining and binding our history and heritage reminds us of the same journey that has taken us thru slavery and the cotton fields of the south, and led us to the pulpit of a visionary pastor from Ebenezer Baptist Church named Martin Luther King Jr. who foretold all of this in the following lines from his "I Have A Dream" speech....
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
To you Martin and all those that paved the path in dearest blood we are forever indebted to you, because without your diligence and belief we would not be able to savor the sweet fruit of the "Dream" Fulfilled.
Goodnight and God Bless America,
Earl L. Small