Thursday, November 6, 2008

Observations Post-Election

Watching the coverage Tuesday night after Obama was declared to be our next president, I was most moved by the number of people in the streets of America's cities. I cannot recall any election of a president that elicited such an outpouring of emotion. Seeing those faces and especially the expressions on the faces of the young took me back to the 1960s and what it was to feel like you were a part of history, that you had been a part of bringing about significant and meaningful change.

As I watched I also couldn't help remembering that the last time I was in Grant Park in Chicago was in 1968 during the Democratic convention when police rained violence on people who had gathered in peaceful protest against the war in Vietnam. I was covering the convention for radio station WBAI-FM in New York and sensing that violence was in the air, I got my black behind out of the park before the police attacked. I much preferred the images on my television screen last night.

It is wonderful to feel hopeful again, to feel that there will be a man in the White House whose allegiance is to people and not ideology, who will listen to those who disagree with him, who acknowledges that good ideas can come from those who disagree with him as well as those who agree.

Whether those who disagree with Obama will respond to his appeals for civility remain to be seen. I was speaking with another daughter today who lives in Denver. Outside a mall she visited on Wednesday stood people dressed in black who were saying that Tuesday was a sad day for America, and they were already preparing bumper stickers reading, "Don't Blame Me. I voted for McCain."

Obviously the damage done to our nation by eight years of George Bush will not be healed in the next four or eight years. Perhaps it will not be healed until a generation of people who fear change die off. No matter. The election of Obama is a revolutionary change in our society, not primarily because he is black but because of his values.

As I said to my wife a while back, if Obama wins, he'll be our first woman president. Who would've ever dreamed she would take the form of a black man.

Julius Lester
© 2008

No comments: