Monday, September 22, 2008

Let There Be HOPE!

Barack Obama, the first African-American man to ever be a nationally chosen nominee for President of these United States stood outside the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, speaking to us of hope, of change, of stepping across divides and around our differences in order to secure our future and strengthen our standing in the world. Yes "us" - I was there!

Regardless of your political persuasion, and I know there is a very wide spectrum of political convictions among those who read my random rants, and regardless of the outcome of this election, this man has changed the political landscape of this country forever. I am grateful for his courage, his strength, his hope, his dream, and the will of the millions of people who have helped make this possible for him and for our nation.

This is the clearest zoomed in shot I took. I think he was looking directly at me in this one. Don't you?

This is my view without the zoom. I guess it's unlikely that he actually spotted me in the crowd. But a girl can dream, can't she???!!!

Yes, I heard Barack Obama speak here in my hometown, a city where, during my lifetime, blacks and whites were not permitted to eat in the same restaurants, share water fountains, ride in the same section of public transportation, or sleep in the same hotels. During my childhood, my own family, my parents, siblings, and I, suffered under the injustice of racism in this state many times as we traveled to Mount Olive, the town where my mother grew up. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for my mother, her eleven siblings, and her sharecropper parents to endure the horrors of Jim Crow laws in the early half of the last century. My father wasn't exempt; he grew up in rural South Carolina during and after the Great Depression.

These times, they are a'changin. Glory be!

The Charlotte Observer reported that twenty thousand of us gathered to catch a glimpse of the man we hope will be our next President. In the crowd were men, women, blacks, whites, gay people, straight people, families with infants in their arms, teenagers, college students traveling in packs wearing matching tee shirts, older couples in what I assume were their church clothes, and thousands who were not so easily identifiable or categorized. Contrary to what the two dozen protesters and sign bearers across the street seemed to think, some of us were followers of the same God they promised will surely send us all to hell! Gasp!!! Gulp!!!

On second thought, maybe it's not the same God...
but that's fodder for a-whole-nother conversation.

Barack is the one in the white shirt on the right side of this picture. I took as many photos as I could that would reflect the size and diversity of the crowd.

One friend of mine said it so well on Friday morning. This isn't verbatim, but it's what I remember: "During campaigns, politicians promise all kinds of things that they know they won't be able to deliver. Once they are elected, they keep precious few of their promises. I don't expect that Barack will be any different than any President before him in that regard, but even if he keeps 20% of the promises he is making, if he is able to move us beyond politics as usual, then we will be so much better off as a country."

A woman in her 70's standing in line behind us as we waited to pass through security yesterday said, "I am the oldest person in this part of the line, so I will say this. I have voted many times in my life, and this is the first time in many years that I have been excited about the person I am voting for." The bumper sticker she held up proudly said, "Rednecks for Obama." One of the campaign volunteers who walked past said, "Okay... We will take all the support we can get." We all laughed.

As I stood there, mostly on my tippy toes, watching, listening, cheering, waving the American flag I was handed, clapping, and marveling at the wonder of that moment, tears came to my eyes. I told myself over and over, "Live this, G. Breathe this. Listen closely. Watch carefully. And pray for this nation of ours at this crossroads in our history. You are here. Be here now." Every few minutes I would close my eyes, listen, feel the moment as deeply as possible, and then I would look up to the sky, and say, "Thank you, Lord."

I underestimated the excitement I would feel at being there, where he was, listening to him share his dream with us, live and in person, even though I was nearly one hundred yards away from him. I underestimated the hope that I would feel simply because I was there among thousands of others who have this same dream.

Speaking of dreams that sometimes come true - I am not a tee shirt wearer myself, except for when I am exercising or going to sleep. But I saw one for sale yesterday that I almost bought. It had an image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr on the bottom right side and an image of Barack Obama on the top left side.
Above Barack's head were the words, "The Dream."
Below Dr. King's face, "The Dreamer."

Obama 08!


Jena Strong said...

Ooh - I want that pin!!

AWESOME POST! I will read a million posts like this, that infuse me with hope and awe.

jmgb said...

i am jealous you lucky lady:)

Amy said...

He's the man! Yes, I'm glad I got to hear him when he was here. He HAS to win.

I love this post, Gail.

Lisa said...

Wonderfully awesome! SO glad you took the opportunity to BE there!!!

Thank you for expanding the HOPE by sharing your experience with us.