Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Presidency; signed, sealed, delivered


Jan 20. Barack Obama was sworn in as Americas 44th President of the United States in front nearly 3 million people in Washington D.C. Jan 21st Obama began the monumental task of restoring America while simultaneously embracing history in becoming the first African American ever sworn in as President.

I was blessed to be in attendance. I had a great view to watch history unfold while fighting the bitter cold for six hours.

This event was so vast it temporarily paralyzed my ability to write: the experience filled my brain with a litany of thoughts. I just kept thinking how could I give this historic moment it’s just due?

I hope I can pull it off.

My journey to witness history began at 6:15 a.m. As I encountered hundreds of thousands of people during my journey I kept muttering to myself, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” In preparing this commentary I suddenly arrived at a conclusion: I’ve never seen anything like this before because there hasn’t been anything like this before.

Did we see Obama’s greatness coming? I personally would have to say no. Just forty years ago African Americans were second class citizens and today Obama is President?

Rarely do we receive advance notice when we’ve been touched by greatness. We didn’t see Jackie Robinson coming in 1947 when he integrated Major League Baseball. His greatness ultimately fueled the Civil Rights Movement. We didn’t receive notice Martin Luther King was coming. His work, along with other nameless warriors, helped shaped what we see in Obama today. We didn’t see Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary” message coming either. Though many attempted to mute his voice his words still exudes greatness today.

I guess greatness doesn’t have to grant us advance notice-we should just be thankful we can someday grace its presence.

On Jan 20th a portion of King’s dream, harmony, was realized albeit temporarily. Seeing the old, young, rich, poor, men, women, and children witnessing history was fascinating. Seeing so many different colors and creeds was really a beautiful site. As I rode the packed metro train to downtown D.C. a passenger happily remarked, “It’s great to see so many people happy and getting along.” I replied, “It is great, but we need to find a way to extend what’s happening today into the future.”

I experienced a wide range of emotions at the ceremonies. When thinking about the historical development of America for a fleeing moment I was uneasy. I thought of the rise of American slavery and racism. Pre-Obama every President we’ve envisioned has been a White male. Now that’s changed. When I thought of the universal persistence African Americans have historically displayed fighting oppression my mood quickly changed from being uneasy to happy.

I looked around at the millions of people fighting the cold with a universal smile who were there to see one man. Then as a human being I became optimistic about what the future could hold.

I think this occasion was the culmination of the historical transgressions that’s taken place over time that’s paved the road for Obama. I think this can be viewed as a case of, “what goes around comes around.”

Let me explain.

During the late 1700’s slaves were instrumental in building the White House. Eight of the first twelve Presidents owned slaves. The first President, George Washington, brought his slaves with him while in office. So did fellow “Founding Father” Thomas Jefferson.

Benjamin Bannecker was instrumental in surveying the city D.C. Frenchman Pierre L’Enfant was the chief architect hired to design the city but he was fired and he took his plans with him. From memory Banneker reproduced L’Enfant’s plans from memory in two days. Without his genius D.C. wouldn’t be what it is today.

Despite African Americans historically enduring bitter cruelties like slavery and often denied inclusion we now have an African American President residing in a home built by slaves. We have a President who will walk the streets of Washington D.C. designed from the self-taught mind of an African American scientist and mathematician.

What goes around does seemingly come around.

Despite the history that’s been made we still have a long way to go. Until we consistently extend ourselves and embrace truth lasting change will continue to elude us. But we can do it. Obama wouldn’t have won this election without the White, Hispanic, and the African American vote. It was a team effort.

In short, Irrespective of age, race, color, or creed Jan. 20th was about what we could become if we all rallied around a common goal constructively and consistently.

Without question Obama made his history. Oh, yes he did. I just hope I gave this commentary the justice it richly deserved.

I hope I did.

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