Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The world breathes a sigh of relief, and celebrates.

Where were you on the historic night? Your thoughts? Hopes?

For me, I must say that last night was amazing. Just in a class of life experiences and joys unto itself.

While I sincerely thought that I wouldn't be able to or want to be around anyone other than yours truly as the results came in, I had a sudden desire to celebrate in the company of close friends when it started to look like Florida might go to Obama. I was still at work and everyone here was just going crazy. Not the good crazy yet; still the crazy with worry crazy. But I had a good feeling and so hauled heinie over to my friends' place. What a great call! It was just 5 of us and 3 kids, under 5. We stuck solely to CNN and it was on Tivo, so we kept pausing to discuss, cry, laugh, drink, eat, and be merry (if not emotional).

One of the friends in attendance had a high-level post in the Obama campaign and is (I am so jealous) going to D.C. for the inaugural ball and all the parties, etc. in January. He'd assured the rest of us throughout the process that Obama had this thing on lock from a while back, but reminded us that we couldn't let up. Even if it seemed in the bag. Which was never an issue because, like so many other people, I couldn't believe this would really happen until it did.

I think the most moving moment for me was describing a photo I saw to my friend's wife.

The caption of the photo read: These two boys waited as a long line of adults greeted Senator Obama before a rally on Martin Luther King Day in Columbia, S.C. They never took their eyes off of him. Their grandmother told me, "Our young men have waited a long time to have someone to look up to, to make them believe Dr. King's words can be true for them." Jan. 21, 2008.

This was a moment for all of us, no matter the color of our skin, but for those of us who are Black it was just ... so special.

What came to my mind was that Oscar acceptance speech that became so instantly famous; when Sally Fields took the stage and the top honor with the words, "You like me, you really like me!" I think that is how many Black people feel/felt, last night; and still, today. Before it was confirmed for them/us last night, a Black man winning the U.S. presidential election - this Black man, specifically - was just a nice thought. A hypothetical hope. A long shot, no matter how likely or logical it felt at any given time along the way.

So that photo, of those two little boys looking up so intensely at Obama ... That was before he was the president-elect. Before the honor was awarded. And when I described this photo to my friend's wife and what it meant for little Black boys and girls to now be able to look up at this figure - the confirmed first Black president of the United States - good god we both, we all had a breakdown like I just didn't know I had in me. We freaked out the kids! They were crying, too. God, and the kids. These sweet little Hapa kids - it was a very multiracial group - know Obama by name and were screaming it when he won - "'bama! 'bama!" ...

It was just, in all hokey honesty, the most moving and memorable night of my life in so many respects. You read about those moments that your elders will always remember. Those historical moments. And you wonder what yours will be.

To date I have two. September 11, 2001 and November 4, 2008 will be burned in my memory until the day I die (or dementia sets in; either/or). And I have a good feeling that the third such moment is just around the corner, come MLK Day and then Inauguration Day, 2009.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing my father and celebrating with him. Having grown up under Jim Crow segregation in rural Louisiana, a dark-skinned Black man, he never thought he'd live to see the day. This day.

I'm so glad he did.

Your comments on this image are welcome, and encouraged! And a question for the photographers - François Lafite, slit, gab113, and oliver.peel - if they are so inclined: Is there anything special about this moment, day, trip, or place beyond what you've shared on Flickr that you'd like to add or comment on here? Along with other vivaca visitors, I would love to know more!

Location: Paris, France★
Photos (top to bottom) courtesy of François Lafite, slit, gab113, and oliver.peel


  1. thank you for sharing your evening with us. I hope you always remember this week! :)

  2. Without a doubt. It was (and still is) truly unforgettable!



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