Progressive Revival

Those of us who stepped up to the voting machine yesterday and voted for Barack Obama did so out of a commitment to radical change. What we got in last night’s victory was that and more. We felt awe and wonder — as a nation. Shouts of joy and thanksgiving and all sorts of spontaneous celebrations erupted in American streets, and even around the world, when the news came across the wire that America had elected Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.

We all struggle to find the words to talk about this transformational moment in history.  We are all still speechless and in awe this morning at what we managed to pull off as a nation and as a generation on yesterday.

Election-watch parties took place all over the country, in homes, in churches, in bars, in the streets. The one at my house consisted of a motley crew of African Americans, Caribbean Americans, and one Jew. We yelled and screamed and clapped and hugged and gave each other high-fives here when CNN declared Senator Barack Obama, an African-American, the 44th President of the United States of America. Before the night was over and everyone headed home hoarse and bleary eyed, we formed a circle, made the teens among us stand in the middle of our circle, took one another’s hand and thanked God for our ancestors’ prayers and thanked God for what our eyes have seen and our ears have heard.

I wish my father, a Depression-era born Southern black man who never made it past the tenth grade, hadlived to see this;day.

I cried the tears my father and mother would have cried. I cried for the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth, Adam Clayton Powell, W. E. B. Dubois, Bebe Moore Campbell, Richard Allen, Booker T. Washington, Fannie Lou Hammer, Shirley Chisholm, H. Rap Brown, Huey P. Newton, Rosa Parks, and every soul who marched, sang freedom songs, passed out a social justice flyers, pushed NAACP membership applications, drove a bus for Freedom Riders, and those nameless folks holding up handwritten signs volunteering to march for just not civil rights, but American rights for the slaves who built this country with their bare hands as they were separated from their loved ones.

My cry was for those who were once silenced  by the KKK, skinheads, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, White Citizens Council, Aryan Nations, racist religious zealots and conservative political pundits creating a climate of fear for minorities, an atmosphere of agony for community activists, and seven degrees of deception for deacons of peace. My cry was for my daughter and those of her generation who can see the realization of a dream deferred. For Obama’s election was not just a race victory but the victory of a new generation of Americans.

And, oh by the way, this is a great time to be a preacher! Oh the sermons you can preach now about belief, deliverance, possibility, God’s Divine Hand, opportunity, how miracles happen, what you do when miracles happen, unity and collective responsibility.

This is the LORD’S doing; and it is marvelous in our eyes!
(Psalm 118:23)

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