Six years ago many of us could not really say with any authority that we had heard of Barack Obama. Our first real glimpse of him came as he delivered a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention held four years ago. After hearing him speak that evening at the convention, I knew that he was someone destined for something great as he captured America’s attention. So approximately two years ago, Barack Obama now a U.S. senator from Illinois announced that he would be running to be president of the United States of America. Many Americans said Barack who? Barack Obama was not a familiar name on the political landscape so the wonderment about whom he was and his politics was to be expected. We should have known something was about to happen when Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus even though he was not favored to win. His campaign used the momentum from the Iowa victory and launched a drive never before seen in American history. Obama certainly had the 3 c’s well in hand as he was competent, compassionate and committed.
Barack Obama used the word “hope” and the phrase “yes we can” throughout his quest to be president of the United States of America. There were enough people who criticized him saying that the word hope had no meaning and was a fluff word. If ever his critics made an error in judgment and calculation it was when they discounted “hope.” You see Americans have always been a hopeful people. Each day that we wake up we are hoping for a god day. When our children tell us what they want to do with their lives, we see the hopeful look in their eyes. When we are up and things are going our way, we are in a hopeful and joyful mood. And even when we are down, we are hoping that things will turn around. Those who don’t believe in hope are usually pretty miserable and negative people. ‘Yes we can’ is just as important because it suggests a can do attitude and spirit. As time went on, Barack Obama was giving people around the country hope for a brighter tomorrow.
I have said on many occasions that the other candidates had campaigns but Barack Obama had a movement. There was a wind that blew across this country which was filled with the air of expectancy and favor. It suggested that while we might have been off course that we were ready to get back on course. This spirit of togetherness that Obama started was inclusive and placed value on each individual regardless of race and gender. All of us were made to feel like we had a seat at the head table and that we could be the shapers of our future. If you had any doubts all you had to do was to look at his audiences. There were people there from different walks of life and socioeconomic status. Teachers were standing next to builders and young folks were seated next to businessmen and businesswomen. Yet even as this powerful force called change was sweeping across America there were those who derided Barack Obama for being too articulate, too clean cut and too professional. And of course for some the three-hundred-pound elephant sitting on the table was his race. So you couple his ability to communicate, his consummate cool and his race all of which was for some Americans just too much to handle. I find the fact that some folks were critical of his oratorical skills almost laughable. Would they have been more comfortable with him babbling or just maybe that would have fit into the stereotype that they have about black men. Despite this challenge, and a few others, the Obama movement has prevailed.
Baby boomers like me can remember where we were exactly when certain life changing events happened. It was no different on Tuesday night as I was glued in front of the television. As the election returns came in my nervousness increased. At just a few seconds at 11p.m. breaking news on CNN declared Barack Obama to be president-elect of the United States of America. My eyes were moist as I thought about going to school in the segregated South and not being able to eat in certain restaurants simply because I was Black. And now here is an African-American who will hold the most powerful position in the world. Yet Barack Obama never used his race to make his case. He talked about the issues of the day and those issues resonated with the American people. Early Wednesday morning Barack Obama had garnered over 330 electoral votes more than the 270 needed to win. During his many speeches, Barack Obama always said that the election was about us and not about him. It is my thinking that with his victory that Americans have reclaimed America. Never before did so many people make it to the polls both on November 4th and through early voting. For example early voting was never in play until this year’s election. The same is true for giving financial contributions through the Internet. These strategies can all be attributed to Barack Obama. The fact that Barack Obama will be the 44th president is almost too surreal for me yet it is true. In my heart I believe that ‘yes we can’ become one America again. President-elect Obama reminds us that we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. And yes we are. I feel now that hope is alive and help is on the way.
Dr. Ewers is the associate dean for student affairs and director of community partnerships at Miami University Middletown in Ohio. He is the author of Perspectives From Where I Sit: Essays on Education, Parenting and Teen Issues.