Barack Obama has become the first black president in our country’s history. Forgive me for saying this, but it doesn’t impress me. I can honestly tell you that electing a black man president isn’t that big of a deal – it’s way overdue.
To me, the bigger deal is how much our country has changed in the past 55 years. Fifty-three years ago, a black woman in Montgomery, Ala., refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. Rosa Parks’ defiance of injustice has led to this day. Forty-five years ago, on the footsteps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood and shouted his dream. A dream where, as he said, “My four little 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.” A dream nobody thought would ever be possible so quickly has finally come true.
Not so long ago, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali shouted and pleaded for justice and were persecuted, but have now finally been heard. Hope has finally arrived for everyone who has ever suffered in this country. America can finally call itself the beacon of light in this world.
No longer can Americans be labeled as racist or unaccepting. No longer can the rest of the world deny we are the forefront of change in the world. The American people have spoken loud and clear, and they have voted for change. Whether you voted for or against Obama, one can’t deny the fact that he represents what hasn’t been present in an American president since Abraham Lincoln.
What happened on Nov. 4 was probably the single most defining moment in our political lives. However, we must not dwell. There is much work to be done, and it will be interesting to see whether or not President-elect Obama can keep his word. I, for one, was severely critical of both candidates and didn’t know who I was going to vote for until I walked into the booth. There were flaws and strengths in each candidate, but the resounding similarity between the candidates in this election is their undeniable patriotism.
Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War hero, should be applauded for running a fair and honorable campaign. Anybody who denies the love McCain has for this country should listen to his concession speech. That was a real concession speech, unlike somebody who ran and lost against Obama in the Democratic Primary.
My friends, as McCain would say, Obama has broken barriers and rewritten history while doing so. Now it is time to move on and see results in Washington. The state of our union is the worst it has been in years, and for anything to ever get done, both parties are going to have to work together. So now I’m calling for both parties to unite, for we know a “house divided against itself cannot stand.”
The impact of what has happened will not be fully realized today, but perhaps many years from now. Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics can finally look in the mirror and believe that if they work hard enough they can be president of the greatest country in the world. They can finally believe in the fact that they too can live the American Dream. The heroes that cried for justice – Parks, King and X – have finally been heard. On Jan. 20, 2009, Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on the steps of the U.S. Capitol; the very steps that were built by the blood and sweat of slaves. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce as an American that change is no longer coming – it’s here.