Lea Gilmore – I’m Taking This Moment

Well, after the crescendo of Barack Obama’s acceptance to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States this evening, we will be ushered into what promises to be one of the most aggressive, to say the least, campaign seasons we will experience in our lifetime. There is much work to be done, many hearts and minds to be healed and won, many doors to be knocked, many grass roots to be fertilized and much more.

But today , August 28, 2008 – I celebrate. We celebrate.

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Right now, I’m going to take a few moments to convey just what this day means to me. Void of political analysis and void of ideological musings, I am speaking as a woman, an African American, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, an activist and a colleague; and maybe even an enemy to some.

I am typing this blog at 5:30am. I like to do this before I check out the mainstream media’s madness. I understand, know, reflect upon and respect today’s political realities, but again today, my brothers and sisters, I am going to revel in this moment deeply and with unapologetic, unadulterated joy.

As I type these words, the emotions are deep. I so wish my parents could be here to see Barack Obama stand up before the world and accept the Democratic nomination for the President of the United. States. Of. America. Man oh man, even saying it is stunning.

My dad…wow. This was a man born so poor in the segregated South of the 1920s that he had to quit school in the third grade to take care of his mother and brothers and sisters. A sharecropper, my dad’s hands were stained yellow from picking tobacco in the hot North Carolina sun. Barely able to read or write, he decided he would move “up North” to make a better life for himself. In Baltimore, he met my mom. My mom was the oldest of ten kids (and I’m an only child, so guess those siblings wore her out!). Also from North Carolina, she realized early while attending the Rockingham Colored High School that education is the “great equalizer” and became the first black woman to graduate from her studies in microbiology at the college she attended. Even given my dad’s limited education, he was the most brilliant political pundit I knew. He was even a Reagan Republican. I chose not to follow that. 🙂

He should be here for this moment.

This man, who had to cross the street if a white woman was coming down the opposite direction, just in the case he may glance at her, and would suddenly “go missing.” This man worked and worked along with his wife to create a middle-class world, full of hope and opportunity for their one child. I thank them.

They should be here for this moment.

Yet many of my parent’s generation ARE here to be a witness. In good health and bad, they are making their way to INVESCO field, sitting in front of their televisions, or laying in a hospital bed with a radio at hand – they are listening and reveling. Even the most ardent and stoic are shedding tears in the realization that dreams can come true, and I’m about to be a witness. I can hear a song playing in my mind and soul right now “My Soul Looks Back in Wonder on How We Made it Over.”

This is a great day for the United States of America. Let’s give ourselves permission to enjoy it. Don’t let the naysayers steel your joy. FOX News Network will be there tomorrow.

I have also been moved by the grace shown by Hillary Clinton. Ultimately, this is not a story about white women losing and black people winning – America has won.

This country will never ever be the same. We can’t go back. History has been made.

This is the same country, whose immense wealth was built on the backs of slaves and sharecroppers. This is our country, where the highest court in the land once legislated bigotry and racism by saying black folks had no rights that white folks need respect (Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1856). This is our country, that separated the races by law (Plessy vs. Fergurson, 1896), and then took 58 years with the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to have the law reflect what so many knew so well already– separate is inherently unequal. This is our country that turned what would have been a mild natural disaster into a disaster of negligence and inhumanity when the New Orleans levy system snapped, out of neglect, and utterly destroyed an entire working class black community, and created urban refugees who many are still in dire straits.

And this is OUR country that we will see an African American become the presidential nominee of a major political party. Eternal vigilance is truly the price of liberty.

Today, if only for a moment before the real hateful campaign games begin, we see a country that has risen above its demons (yeah, we know those demon types are still running rampant), but for this moment, we will watch a man with a name like Barack Hussein Obama, a product of a Kenyan father and white American mother, stand proud, stand strong and accept the Democratic nomination for the President of the United States. I can’t say that enough.

There is a party going on in heaven. Sojourner Truth, Dred Scott, Fannie Lou Hamer, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T.Washington, Frederik Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, Malcolm X, Mahalia Jackson, those nameless slaves, freedom fighters, heroes, sheroes, and my mom and dad, will be visiting INVESCO Stadium tonight with the best seats in the house.

And finally, how amazingly appropriate that today, August 28, 2008, is the 45th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream Speech” given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.

For Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all rational humans, this is a monumental night.

As Americans and citizens of the world, let’s be proud.