My great-grandfather was born a slave. His son, my grandfather, went on to become a respected surgeon. His son, my father, has reached great heights of success as a journalist of international reknown. One constant in all of their lives has been a slow and painful progression, from a world where people of color were considered property in this country to a world where a black man is within hair’s-breadth of becoming the next President of the United States.
All of these men, my paternal forebears, experienced racism and prejudice on a scale I can barely conceive. Although I was born less than nine years after Dr. King made his iconic speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but the time I came into the world things had already changed so much. And now we can stand and applaud Barack Obama as he accepts the nomination of the Democratic Party.
I can say that I would have been just as happy to see Hillary Clinton upon that stage. Her nomination would have been equally historic and possibly more meaningful, given the long-standing state of inequality experienced by women. I doubt that Hillary would have been as eloquent, as impassioned, as moving in her speech, but the significance of her success would have been just as great.
This is a stunning time to live in. It’s hard for me to express the joy I felt in watching Mr. Obama on that stage. The Amercia, and indeed the world, has entered dire straits indeed. The world we live in now is fraught with dangers of a scale unknown in human history. We face economic, military, environmental and social challenges that are literally unimaginable to those who came before us. And yet, watching this man, I can believe that we will prevail. And even prosper again.
Some of the hope surrounding Barack Obama is his aura, his charisma. He speaks as few orators have ever done. He stirs the emotions and brings us to our feet. But more that just his tone and tenor shines through. His message is equally powerful.
Barack Obama will be remembered, I hope, as the President who returned America to an age of responsibility. His message is one of maturity and adulthood. Of taking responsibility for ourselves and each other, because that is the right thing to do. Of finding a better path where strength and safety come from within and from without. Of working together to make this the best of all possible worlds.
That is the kind of world that I believe my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather wanted for me. I am honored to bear witness to this time.