A Personal Commentary
Watching the election returns last night as history was being made in Tennessee State Senate District 22 and the national race for president, I was mindful of my unique position as a witness to change.
I was keenly mindful that at the age of thirteen, my father and mother had insisted that I go to Washington, D.C. for the March on Washington in 1963. It was the first time I had ever traveled away from Charleston, and doing so myself was intimidating. Hearing all the speeches made that day astounded me. However, Dr. King’s address calling the nation to acknowledge its debt to America’s Creed was absolutely mesmerizing. Tonight, just short of six months since my father passed away, I witnessed an achievement of Dr. King’s Dream for this nation in which I know he would have rejoiced. My heart literally filled my chest in amazement, stunned and nearly in shock, that I have lived to see what my father, mother and grandfather could only dream of, become a reality.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama becomes America’s first elected Black President. He did it in an absolutely stunning way. I may be wrong, but I do not recall a previous presidential candidate ever accumulating so massive a tally of electoral votes, 349 at last count, as I write this commentary. (Ed: Reagan won the election, carrying 44 states with 489 electoral votes to 49 electoral votes for Carter representing six states and Washington, D.C.). The fact he did so by running a highly principled campaign really speaks volume for the American people’s ability to discern substance from chaff. Integrity was on display and the American people, White, Black, feminist, conservative, moderate, liberal, independent, green, single, married, straight, gay, lesbian, trans-gendered, bisexual, disabled, able-bodied, civilian, military, blue-collar, college educated, rich, poor, middle class, natural born citizen or immigrant, we all heard the call to believe in America’s ideal and accepted that challenge.
It may surprise you to know that this election was covered live around the world: the BBC in London, State radio in China, satellite hook-up in Kenya, also in Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Australia, Germany, Spain, France, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Turkey, Italy, Morocco and Eastern Europe to include Russia. Seventy countries supported Obama, and watched America elect a president. Truly this was a world event. In my lifetime. It is humbling.
Other local victories signal change
As amazing as this single victory is, there were also election races on the state and local levels that held important outcomes. City Council contests have resulted in new faces coming onto the council in January. Candy Johnson, David Allen, Joel Wallace and Jeff Burkhart will bring new citizen-minded perspectives to our City Council.
The State Senate District 22 ended with a resounding victory for Clarksville Attorney Tim Barnes, with 37,015 votes to Rosalind Kurita receiving 23,329 votes. The mudslinging and disinformation didn’t blind the citizenry to the true nature of the political contest before them. Protecting elections from manipulation and deception, the choice was clear for those willing to see ‘The Light.’ Humility versus Arrogance. The people chose Humility.
I have renewed hope for these United States of America and for the State of Tennesse. We have serious work before us. Given this renewed sense of ability and determination, let us go forth and meet these challenges head on with a united spirit and willingness to overcome. As President-elect Obama has so proudly proclaimed, “Yes, WE CAN!” To my granddaughter, “Baby, here is your birthday present. This world will be your oyster!”