Tuesday, November 4, 2008

He Had A Dream

Why is this Election Day feel so different than any other?  

An African American is running for president and it looks like he will win. What a paradigm shift we’ve had.  The readers that are less than 40 years old may not truly appreciate the way it was.  Growing up, I recall my father (God rest his soul – he was a good man) complaining that there were too many black players on the Brooklyn Dodgers so he couldn’t root for them. Of course, he didn’t say “blacks.” And of course, being a rebellious youth, I embraced the Dodgers and have been a fan ever since.

The polling place was jammed with voters this morning. I’ve voted in the same place for 8 years now and I cannot recall such activity and buzz. While I was there I saw several people wandering about who obviously hadn’t voted before and didn’t know what to do. There was one mom was dragging three kids, an elderly Asian woman needed voting assistance in the booth to figure out the machine, some others who young and old, men and women, diverse and not so divers.

We have a renewed appreciation for our democracy. The right to vote and the freedom of choice we have in this nation is unparalleled the world over. Back in the day, I served my country in order to maintain these rights as did so many other 20-year-olds. Even though we did not fully understand our obligation then, we served, and we were proud.  This presidential race has stirred the conscious of the nation in a way that I have not seen since the Vietnam war. And I think it has mobilized us to serve again. There were many people at the polling place today who looked proud to vote.

There must be great joy in heaven today.  Abraham, Martin and John. Bobby. Jackie, Rosa, Thurgood, and 14-year-old Emmit Till. Harriet Tubman, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Crispus Attucks, Frederick Douglass, Dred Scot. Paul Robeson, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Branch Rickey. So many more, so much sacrifice. 

Win or lose today for Obama, the march that began so many years ago continues and does not end here.  We await the results.


  1. (These comments came from a good friend. I thought that I would share them with you, with her permission. = Bob)

    It's hard sometimes to understand how time can heal both individuals and our country. This morning during yoga class the instructor and I talked about what a great day today is - no matter what the outcome. I'm sharing with you because I was struck by how the "30/40 somethings" in my class couldn't imagine what life was like almost 35 years ago ....

    In 1972 I was 19 years old and a student at Mary Washington College in Virginia. When I would stray off campus, I faced signs that said "Whites Only" and "Colored Here" at gas stations, restaurants ... etc .... Not that Central NJ where I grew up was a bastion of equal rights for all people. NJ had it's share of KKK organizations - as my father knew. He received threathening phone calls because he implemented Head Start in the Lakewood Public School system.

    Now almost 40 years later a black man can run for President and be taken seriously and may be elected. Not that racism is gone ..... all you have to do is sit in the Philly & Raleigh airports and hear people around you talking about "wacking" Obama.

    Nonetheless, I wanted to celebrate and acknowledge this great day for the USA with you!

  2. Nicely said, Bob.

    There have been a lot of comments today about how far we've come since the Civil Rights era of the 60s. However, I had the benefit of an additional perspective today. I work with a woman who moved from India to the USA with her family 16 years ago. She told me this morning that last night she felt the same way she did when she first arrived: happy, excited and full of hope -- a feeling that had been fading for the last eight years, and she was thrilled to have it back. Something else for all of us native-born citizens to think about.

    Jim O'Malley