I honestly hadn't thought a whole lot about the racial factor of this election. I had seen Barack Obama as a qualified, thoughtful, well-balanced, intelligent candidate who wanted to lead the United States as best he could, and several weeks ago he earned my vote. But, as I watched the video from Grant Park in Chicago, something struck me. As the camera panned over the crowd, I saw that the vast majority of African-Americans had tears in their eyes (and yes, some attendees of other races as well). That was when the gravity of this election hit me. We are not just electing another well-qualified President. For many people, particularly African-Americans, it means far more than that.
We live in the United States of America, a country where the Constitution says that everyone is guarenteed equal protection of the laws, and everyone has a right to liberty. We wrote a Declaration of Independence that says that everyone is created equal, and each and every one of us has a right to be free.
Yet, for much of our history, and in many ways to this day, we have failed to live up to these creeds. We write that each person is equal under the law, and then execute three times more minority citizens than white citizens. We write that all men are created equal, and then pass laws guarenteeing that they are not. We write that everyone has a right to be free, and then we keep others in chains. Yes, We the People have often fallen short of our obligation to live up to our promises to one another, but if this election can teach us anything, it is that it doesn't have to be this way.
We the People have the ability to get up each day and face the world with the promise to mold it into what we desire it to be. We can envision an America in which the laws protect everyone; in which full equality is realized, and then we can make it happen.
As I watched those pictures of African-Americans weeping as the election returns became certain, I realized something. For perhaps the first time in their lives, there are parents who can look at their children - look them right in the eye - and say honestly, that if you work hard, if you persevere, if you believe in yourself and your fellow people, you can become whatever you want to be in the United States of America.
For most of our history, we have promised that each person is created equal; that each person is born with liberty; that each person deserves to be free from violence and discrimination. And, for most of our history, we have failed to fully realize these promises. Today, and each day in the future, it is up to us to make sure that these promises are fulfilled, that they are not idle phrases penned hundreds of years ago, but living committments that we carry forward with each passing generation.
President Obama has my good will. I sincerely hope that he will be a great 44th President of the United States of America.