Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the day in history - random thoughts
maybe i need to call this bittersweet two. check out the comments already down there from a thoughtful 'younger than those of who cant help but remember how we got here generation'. the moment, the day and Barack and Michelle Obama were perfect. he wove together everything and everyone. he was everything george bush and his minions were entitled to by birth and education but never were.
but in some sense the question is why this is so extraordinary. and why did this country continue to indulged in racism, discrimination against everyone, and a lack of beauty and soul for 40 years after the civil rights movement, american indian movement and other brave people spoke the truth to the government and people.
but for the moment i will focus on the sweet. i have walked and been inspired by the singing of 'we shall overcome' in an oklahoma city church before a march, bette midler's singing of 'gotta have friends' before a gay rally in washington square, folksingers singing woodie guthrie's 'this land is your land' and american indian singing, poetry and speech. and i listened to recordings of bill broonzy singing 'if you're black...' which was expanded so magnificently by a true civil rights veteran to my joy and that of barack obama
it's not for me to determine whether my actions lived up to the what these moments should have inspired. but i do know that january 19th and 20th, 2009, were better days than any of us deserve. thank you barack obama and all those who have gone before you.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.


Blogger princess_leah61 said...

It's funny that you bring up the term "bittersweet". This word also crossed my mind during the coverage of the inauguration but it came to my mind in reference to a different side of this historic event.
To me it was bittersweet that, in the year 2009, we have come so far in equality and yet we are still so far from it as well. It is indeed very historical that we are seeing a black man take the oath as president when some 200 years ago black slaves were caged but a few feet from the exact same spot to build the place that Obama will now rule during his presidency. Yet is not a pity that it took 140 years to cover that short distance.
The slaves were "freed" in 1862 and supposedly allowed to vote but it was not for at least another 100 years that they could actually use this right. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960's was the first real step towards freedom for most people of any color. Freedom to sit where they chose and freedom to be "considered" as a citizen. (I use quotations because in some areas of this country people of color still lack any real power, freedom, or true equality.)
Almost 50 years later, in a world so "free" as ours, people have debated for the past 2 years whether a black man, or any woman for that matter, could actually win a presidency or should be allowed win a presidency. Perhaps the color of their skin or their religion or their gender would be offensive to the rest of world once considered as THE leader of our country. That is bittersweet to me.
I'm happy for Barack and his family and for the African-American community...hell for society as a whole for finally taking this step...but it is sad to me that such a big deal should be made of this man not because he is the best candidate and will provide much needed change but because of the color of his skin. It is sad that skin color,gender and religion are still considered as notable factors in regarding any person's competency.

1/21/09, 2:24 PM  
Blogger Cactus Rose said...

Yesterday was indeed a bittersweet moment. I was proud to see the tears in the eyes of proud people of all races,and the enormous crowds who had gathered in the public spaces of Washington D.C.to take part in this moment in history. Not since the era of the Vietnam War the Civil Rights Movement had so many gathered at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, and it was good to see Americans gathered there to celebrate a victory for our society, rather than being there to discuss and protest the ills that afflict us.
It was a moment of unity not lately seen. We can only hope that, like the Christmas spirit, we can keep this feeling rolling along into the days to come.
The bitterness came for me, from the fact that much attention was focused on the blackness of the man, rather than the focus staying fixed on his dignity, his eloquence and his vision of the future. Still, it was a fitting celebration of what we hope will be, and in fact, a celebration of the fact that we may now dare ourselves to hope again.

1/24/09, 10:14 PM  
Blogger Cactus Rose said...

And now, for the sweetest part of the day....
As usual, in a high school classroom, there was a bit of shuffling and whispering in the first moments, but as I got past the introductory paragraph, a silence fell as each girl listened, following along with the projected text on our classroom wall. There was a reverence in the air, along with openness, hope and a sense of awe and unity that we were all sharing in a momentous event that would surely be remembered in all of our minds and hearts for a lifetime, and that will be talked about to our children and grandchildren for years to come.
It was then that I felt myself being swept up in the message and the emotion of the words I was reading. I wanted to give meaning and resonance to those words and images, and convey the spirit of the speech and the thoughts behind it. It was perhaps even more meaningful to read and hear those words in separation from the image of the man himself, to realize that it was our new leader speaking, and that he is in a position to fight to make his words become a reality, and he was asking us to join together to fight with him to redefine ourselves as a nation.
After the reading of the speech, I offered to make copies of the speech for the girls, hoping that a few would be moved to take them, and perhaps share them with their families. There were over 20 girls present, and I thought maybe 5 would take a copy. I ended up printing off 11 copies and handing them all out to students. Not one was left on the tables at the end of the day.
After all was said and done, that was perhaps the sweetest moment of the day, when I realized that I had played some part in making this event meaningful to those whose task it will be to carry the torch into the future

1/24/09, 10:21 PM  

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