There are thousands, maybe millions of blogs this week about the momentous occurrence this week when Barack Obama became the Democratic candidate for the President of these United States. I’m jumping into the mix; I blog so seldom but maybe someone will happen upon my two cents worth of rambling. This is an exciting time in American history in general and Black American history, in particular. Dr. Brown, the chair of African American Studies here at Merritt College, commented that history and political science books are being written at this moment and will be a part of our children’s and grandchildren’s curriculum.
Little did I know last fall, when I attended a rally for Obama in downtown Oakland’s City Center, would I believe the man who stood before a cheering crowd of thousands, proud and tall, would make it this far. My feelings at the time were he has promise, but maybe 2012 he would come into his own. Ha! But what did I know? Like millions of people, I saw him speak on television at the 2004 Democratic Party Convention and was absolutely blown away. I knew then he was a young brother to keep my eye on.
My coworker expressed how her 81 year-old mother marveled at the fact that she lived long enough to see a Black presidential candidate. For many of our elders this is a miracle as they remember, especially those born and raised in the South, the trials and tribulations our folk had trying to cast a ballot. I think about my late grandmother, Otelia Gilliam Rowland, and what she would be thinking about Obama. Grandmother was a die-hard Republican. LOL. Yep, she sure was and would not hesitate to tell you. When she first told me I must have been about nine years old when Kennedy and Nixon were running for president. I was shocked and outraged in all of my child understanding about politics and race. A Republican? But Grandmother, how could you vote for Nixon? He doesn’t like Negroes! It took me awhile to reconcile that Grandmother was from the old school Southerners who continued to follow the party of Abraham Lincoln. After all, he set us free, right? And he was a Republican. Well, Grandmother held steadfast to that theory and she took her right to vote very seriously.
Black folk and voting have had a tenuous, often violent history. After the Civil War, during Reconstruction, we exercised the right, albeit briefly. Then we were denied, threatened, harassed and beaten to keep us from the ballot box. It was a long, slow process; much marching and preaching, blood, sweat and tears, progress was made slowly. Some folks, like my grandmother in Arkansas were given the privilege while Black folk in Mississippi and Alabama were intimidated every time they walked up to the courthouse to register. Finally the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted under President Lyndon Johnson’s administration which essentially prohibited the denial of the right to vote.
Getting back on topic here, see I told you I was rambling….. Here we are in 2008 and we have a serious Black contender for the President. But it is not all about race. Your vote is a person and private right. Just go do it.
Oh, and our illustrious candidate is an acclaimed author. Obama’s two books are, Dreams From My Father (see my review. http://www.amazon.com/review/product/1847670911/ref=cm_cr_pr_helpful
and The Audacity of Hope.
Until the next time….and who knows when that will be.