Senator Barack Obama walked away with 338 votes from the electoral college to cement his place in United States history as the first African American to sit in a seat of power in the Oval Office.
President-Elect Barack Obama has completed a full circle of history for not only African Americans in America, but America as a whole. 400 plus years ago, Africans were kidnapped from their homeland, Africa, to be sold as cattle to Caucasian Americans who had settled in the colonies of the New World. This New World was inhabited by the subjects of England who wanted to establish a place where religious and socio freedoms could be exercised.
Unfortunately, these freedoms were not extended to the humans that were forced to give their lives to a lop-sided, hypocritical and essentially ignorant ideology that was void of compassion and integrity. Yet, this New World became the foundation to what was to become the United States of America. A piece of paper drafted by a group of men seeking liberty from oppression and tyranny from the crown of England, expressed the independent attitude of a young country that held the fundamental concept “that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
However, when the Revolutionary War was fought and won, America did not and refused to extend those liberties to African American slaves. The Civil War and Lincoln’s Republican Party freed the slaves technically, but it wasn’t until the mid to late 1960’s that African Americans were ever really able to, with confidence, apply the Declaration of Independence to themselves.
November 4, 2008, a forty-seven year old African American man from a low to moderate income background, who garnered scholarships and loans to attend Harvard, became the forty-fourth President-Elect of the United States. Did Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Mary McLoud Bethune, Benjamen Banneker, Nat Turner, Robert Smalls, Carter Woodson, Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Paul Robeson, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Eubie Blake, Rosa Parks, Emmit Till, Marcus Garvey, the four little girls murdered one dark Sunday in the 1960’s, John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Francis, Medger Evers, El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), Martin Luther King, Jr., Kunta Kinte and my own enslaved great-great-great-great-grandfather George Nelson Ricks, dare to dream this day could ever be possible?
It would seem that the great Langston Hughes’ poem, “I, Too, Sing America,” would be appropriate right about now:
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–
I, too, sing America.