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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's been a long time coming...

It is a little before 8 AM Wednesday morning. I have been awake most of the night.
Today, we have a new President of these United States of America.
I voted a week and a half ago, so that yesterday I could work the polls.
When I went to the voting station, I looked down at Barack Obama's name on the ballot, I just started to sob. I did manage to press the button but I was sobbing so hard, an election official had to come help me finish the voting.
Why was I sobbing so hard?
Because I felt the weight of all the people, of my family who has come before me.
My Granddaddy James White, who served our nation in World War I. When he came home to America, he came back to a nation that was still lynching black men and women.
I thought of my beloved stepfather, who is not here to share this day with me.
My Pops fought for our nation in Korea and served in the United States Air Force for over 20 more years, he returned to an America where he could not eat in many diners or drink from the same fountain as whites. He was not able to cast a vote in his home state of Louisiana until the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
I though of my mother, who I love so much and who has seen so much. My beautiful mother, who had to sit in the backs of buses and trains and who could not try on clothes in certain stores in Washington, DC.
I thought of my wonderful Aunt Willie, the politician in our family. When Washington DC got home rule in 1975 she was the first councilwoman for her district. She died just a few short months ago at almost 90 believing that yes we can.
She believed that Barack was "The One."
Even though she was suffering with cancer, she was still prodding and pushing and encouraging people in her retirement home to vote. She would have loved last night...
It took me a while to settle on Barack as my candidate, but when I did I knew he was the right man for this moment in time.
I left that voting booth feeling the gravity and the hard won hope that a well qualified, well educated Black man had run a great campaign, full of hope and reasonable ideas to lead our country out of the dark runnel of the last 8 years.
I cried, for hope and I cried for all those who came before me and for all the little children. black brown, red, yellow children of all faiths from all kinds of families that on this day can now really believe their parents when they tell these children, that you can grow up in America and be anything.
The beautiful song "lift Every Voice and Sing" has been on my mind for the last few days.
I am posting the words here.
Aiming Higher and Higher...
Cookie Washington
Proud American

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

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