- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2008


Just for today, how about allowing us our momentous revelry for a few hours more? Time later for staffing a government. Time later for analyzing winners and losers. Time later for examining the flawed voting process. Time later for dashing unrealistic expectations.

Today, we just want to “celebrate good times” because “there ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move.”

Today, we just want to revel in what my Cuzin’ Mo jokingly but fondly dubbed “Black Tuesday.”

With the historic election of Barack Obama, black Americans realized the fullness of U.S. citizenship for the first time as they rallied among that smorgasbord of faces gathered in Chicago’s Grant Park on Tuesday night. And they went wild.

Standing on the same lakeshore where Abraham Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” speech in 1858, Mr. Obama brought home the historic point: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

No wonder we cry, cheer and dance in the streets.

“Obama in the House!” Black folks, young and old, are rolling down their car windows to pump a fist and greet one another in unique solidarity.

Singer Frankie Beverly’s “happy, happy people” echoed on the same D.C. streets Tuesday night that Rap Brown’s “burn, baby, burn” had 40 years ago, when rioters looted and set buildings ablaze after the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Not since the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, not since the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954, not since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have Americans who descended from African slaves felt so whole.

From the original U.S. Constitution that counted our enslaved forefathers as three-fifths of a man without the right to vote to Mr. Obama being elected as “The Man,” it has been more than two long, treacherous centuries.

To foresee this presidential milestone was “to dream the impossible dream.”

Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes lamented “a dream deferred” that “dries up like a raisin in the sun.” Just give black Americans a second to sniff those fermented grapes, roll them around our palates and savor the sweet, rich taste of possibilities once denied.

Chants of “We Shall Overcome” now ring “We Have Overcome.”

Ours is an amazing celebration because ours has been an astonishing experience.

“Just think, our people were in shackles, sold on the auction block, whipped, raped, lynched, assassinated and just plain humiliated, but we survived,” said Cuzin’ Mo. “And I told my white co-workers months ago that it was going to be their children who will elect a black man to be president.”

This “post-racial” irony is not lost on the descendants of people once marked as chattel, that the son of a Kenyan man and a white Kansas woman would rise above our country’s deepest cut and intractable challenge to become the 44th president of these United States.

And all Americans will be better for the unthinkable victory. So, too, will our shining example in realizing the freedom fighters’ promise of “liberty and justice for all” serve to make a better global community.

Black folks know we did not “reach the mountaintop” alone: 60 percent of the ballots for Mr. Obama were cast by white voters.

America will not reach even higher summits of parity unless we put our differences aside and pull together, as Mr. Obama and Republican presidential nominee John McCain, in his gracious and moving concession speech, have beckoned us to do.

Today black Americans, who lined up for hours to grab commemorative newspapers for posterity, are elated to have a narrative of renewed hope to pass down. The new promises for our grandchildren may yet soothe the unhealed wounds our grandparents suffered.

When I think of Mr. Obama’s deceased grandmother, I think of mine. A quiet trailblazer, Beatrice Terrell fought against polls taxes and became one of the first black poll workers in Virginia - the Old Dominion, the former capital of the Confederacy, which gave its 13 electoral votes to Mr. Obama. She taught that “nothing beats a failure but a try.”

My Cuzin’ Jake is Miz Bea’s twentysomething great-great-grandson. Today, she would be proud that he is a staffer in the office of a U.S. senator.

“Yes, it’s a good day to be a black man,” Jake said Wednesday.

On his way to a congressional cafeteria, he paused at the doorway leading to the inaugural stage where Mr. Obama will take the presidential oath in January before a breathtaking vista of the Mall, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

“I was awestruck just looking at the view, and I started thinking about how this is the doorway to democracy and to the seat of power for the whole country, the whole world,” Jake said. “I’m not lying, I got all emotional.”

We chuckled when I responded, “Just save me a front-row seat when you’re sworn in.”

Since “Black Tuesday,” I’ve gone from cackling to crying about the reactions of “my peeps” or “my people” in Gwendolyn Brooks poems.

“Mission Accomplished,” “First Family” and “Front Pages” are Internet images of the Obamas - Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha - making their third e-mail round through my computer. We need to emulate that model for our young families.

“We couldn’t wait for our 40 acres and a mule, so we took 50 states and the White House,” said one friend.

I heard that reference to the unfulfilled promise of Reconstruction-era reparations twice.

“Martin [Luther King] was our Moses, who brought us out of bondage; Barack is our Joshua, who will take us into the Promised Land,” said another friend.

The faithful at King’s church in Atlanta sang, “He may not come when you want Him, but He’ll be there right on time; He’s an on-time God, yes He is.”

Iconic ‘60s black nationalist poet and songwriter Gil Scott Heron warned: “The revolution will not be televised.” He was wrong. It was also telegraphed in cyberspace.

Today, we “Wake up Everybody” to celebrate “A New Day” and mark new chapter in the black history books.

Tomorrow, we go back to reality. Together, with our first black president, we have much left to do.

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