As I sit here tonight, I find myself reflecting on the events of this day. But I also find myself remembering the events that made this day possible.
I was fortunate enough to watch some of the inauguration, but the business of teaching was what needed to be done. However, today everything felt different. Today I was inspired to become a better teacher. Because the future for those I teach is now very real. No longer will I think of a child as just another student who, though full of potential, may not succeed in life because of the color of his skin or her gender. I can truly say for the first time in my career I can look at each student – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, bi-racial, male or female and think: anything is possible for this child. Anything!
As I stop to think about this day, I am jolted by the realization that is a family of color at home in the White House tonight! There is a man who will wake up tomorrow morning and begin leading what again can become the greatest country in the world. With this man’s guidance, we will be inspired to walk behind him – no WITH him – to build a better America than ever before. He will inspire us to become not only once-again proud Americans, but better people, stronger people, responsible people.
Of course, this would never have been possible without those who stood, and sometimes died, before him. How fitting that he should use Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King as is role models. How fitting that he has called us to service like John F. Kennedy. How wonderful that we feel so inspired to listen, and do.
There were other people of course, perhaps not so great, perhaps just ordinary people, who were just as instrumental in bringing about this day. The children of slaves who continued to labor, making minimum wage, or less, yet quietly instilled a work ethic in their children and their children’s children. The woman who was just too damned tired to walk all the way to the back of the bus. The civil rights workers who stood up for what they knew was right. The African immigrant who came to this country, fell in love and married with a white woman, and produced an extraordinary man. The women who, in the sixties, began to speak up that yes, while their roles of child rearing and homemaking were indeed important, they could do other things just as well, and made all things possible for my generation and those of my daughter’s. These people sometimes quietly, sometimes quite loudly worked for change. But change did come.
I grew up in a time when I would visit the south, and saw the “whites only” signs on the drinking fountains, the front doors of restaurants, the restrooms, and accepted this as just the way it was. I grew up in a time when the “N” word was commonplace. I grew up in a time when young girls were told they couldn’t go to college – that they were just going to get married and raise a family anyway. I grew up in a time when people would’ve laughed heartily if a young black boy said that he would president someday.
Thank God those days are gone – forever! Thank God I was able to see this change. Yes, I can reflect, but I can also look forward to a future that is bright with possibilities as we all move in a new direction. I can hardly wait!
Thanks Mom for sharing! And thanks for making sure I grew up with an open mind, so that I to could celebrate the joy and triumph of the American people this week.
I'll just add that I had the same thought on Tuesday morning when I saw a young mother board the bus with her toddler son. I teared up looking at that kid and realizing "Oh my God, he's never going to know a time where he would have completely dismissed the thought of ever being President of the United States."
As a woman, President Obama (I smile ever time I type or see that) has pleased me this week, sticking up for my rights. He repealed the Global Gag Rule which stripped developing countries of critical reproductive health assistance (you can thank him here). Additionally, the Senate quickly passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, a critical piece of wage discrimination legislation.
Of course, I'm pretty happy about sticking up for the constitution and closing down the torture chambers of Gitmo. And despite the inherited mess of outdated equipment, the embrace of technology the administration has already shown by overhauling the White House website and including a BLOG!