Congratulations to Senator Obama. Congratulations to everyone who got out there and voted or served as election officials or campaigned or actively got involved in the debate.
This is a monumental time in American history and one that we can all be proud of, regardless of who was voted for on this ticket. If you voted Democrat, you voted for potentially the first Black President. If you voted Republican, you voted for potentially the first female Vice-President. History would have been made regardless of the outcome. 100 years ago, either scenario would have been thought inconceivable. 50 years ago, either would have been considered incongruous. 25 years ago, improbable.
Yet here we are.
The country has spoken: it's time for a change--a time to move forward. Our first Black President. That alone speaks volumes. The road has been long and tumultuous for Black people in this country and I don't profess to even begin to know what that feels like. I grew up in a very sheltered existence smack dab in the middle of Texas. But this morning in class, my professor provided a very emotional insight into just how significant yesterday's result. He was a family friend of Andy Goodman, a NY civil rights activist, who--along with fellow activists James Cheney and Michael Schwerner--were abducted, tortured, and killed by local Mississippi Klansmen. The three men (Goodman and Schwerner were from NY, Cheney from MS) were participating in Freedom Summer, 1964, where thousands of civil rights activists came to Mississippi to register Black voters, where virtually no Blacks were registered to vote, mainly due to fear of being persecuted by the Ku Klux Klan. During the 10 week program, 4 activists were killed, 4 critically wounded, 1000 arrested, 80 beaten, and 67 churches, homes, and businesses were bombed or burned.
My professor talked about the climate of the time in New York--he was asked to stay with the Goodman family to lend support for his friend, Andy's younger brother, while the family focused on trying to find Andy and friends who went missing on June 21st and whose bodies were not found until August 4 buried in a dam in the swamps. They died because they believed that everyone had a right to vote. They died because they chose to do what was difficult. They died because they believed.
But their fight persevered, and 44 years later here we are--with 122 million (at the last count...and they're still being counted) people going to the polls to cast their vote. It's estimated that this is the largest voter turnout since 1960 Kennedy/Nixon race. Of course we'll have to wait for the final numbers, but it's estimated the voter turnout to be around 63%--and that my friends is very exciting!
I truly believe that many of the problems facing our great nation have been caused by apathy by the American public to be involved in politics. Everyone is bitching, yet no one wants to stand up and do something. Until we can talk and discuss and debate the issues, we can't fix them. Until we start taking an interest in our political future and holding politicians accountable for their actions, we can't fix anything.
Unfortunately for Senator McCain, after 8 years of Bush and Cheney, the Republican Party had to be held accountable for their actions. I do have to commend him on his concession speech--it was eloquent and very thought provoking and I hope that Senator McCain will continue to be the Maverick and bring the parties together for the benefit of this country. Now more than ever it is important for our country to continue to grow and move forward. Regardless, I am quite sure whatever endeavor he embarks upon from here, he will be successful.
It is amazing, the change--overnight--in this city. Everyone was smiling, everyone was laughing, floating on Cloud 9 if you will. No one is naive enough to believe that are problems are going to magically disappear, because they're not. This administration has a long and difficult road ahead of them, but I think that they can do it. I personally think we are on the right path. I realize that 56 million people disagree with me, but part of what makes this country so great is that we get to disagree and it's okay. We get to debate and it's okay. We get to move forward and make this country a better place for our children and their children because, as Eugene reminded me yesterday, while we all have different theories on how it should be done, we all want what's best for our country and our fellow countrymen.
I feel that the time is now and we have exciting times ahead of us. And I hope that this election will serve as a springboard for open communications and a renewed and continuing interest in our nation's political interests. That is truly how Change Can Happen.