President Kennedy left an indelible mark on American culture. As a child of the 80s, the infatuation that Baby Boomers exhibited for President Kennedy never made much sense to me. Sure he was personable, handsome, young, and bright, but I didn’t understand the infatuation.
Then I heard Senator Obama’s speech about race in America (March 2008).
I’ve never been so proud to be an American as when I heard Senator Obama’s speech. This must have been what it felt like to hear Kennedy, or FDR, or Reagan even. To hear someone at so high a level speak so plainly, so passionately, and with such vision is a rarity. This was the first time that I felt like a real constituent, that I felt represented by my elected official.
In one fell swoop, Senator Obama took on an issue that most Americans are forced to consider on a daily basis whether we like it or not. Senator Obama said aloud, at what may have been the absolute most important time in his political career, the same things that scholars like Cornell West have been saying for decades: Racism is alive in America. It is part of America.
This was the most daring thing I’ve ever seen any man do. The more we hide our issues the stronger they become. What Senator Obama did on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 at 11 a.m. will go down in my memory as the first time in my entire life that I have felt real pride about being an American.
Senator Obama has received a lot of guff about being superfluous and lacking substance. In my experience, there is absolutely nothing unsubstantial or superfluous about feeling hope and love and facing and speaking the truth.