Bearing witness

November 5, 2008

First it was Nelson Mandela.

Now, it’s Barack Obama’s turn.

[Note: Photos are from Huffington Post. I'm in the grove of trees encircling the outer edges of the crowd. That's as close as I tried to get]

It was beautiful and so, so, so inspiring to see.

I don’t think I could have imagined what it would have felt like to be standing in that long, long line on Michigan Avenue on a rather balmy un-November-like evening, with the most friendly and chatty people I’ve  probably ever met, and entering with that amazingly huge and well-behaved (!) crowd into that park to hear and see him live (albeit behind bulletproof glass) as he stepped into his new role as 44th President of the United States.

What a moment. What a speech.  What a speech.  What depth of character.  What a quality person.  What a long time for the 106 year old woman from Atlanta to wait for someone of this caliber to step into the role of leader of this United States of America.  How could anyone not want this man to be the person who represents them and acts on their behalf on the world stage?  He even recognized his non-supporters and did not demonize them – what a display of grace and humility!

I was so moved by the whole thing, I could seriously even imagine myself living here in this city.  America seems almost tolerable again.  And you know what else? As I listened to him speak, I knew that he would never see it as politically expedient to declare that I, and persons who share my sexual orientation, could not have a place in his Cabinet.  That would simply be unthinkable.  He is a model of leadership that we could all learn something from.

Now, I need to go get some sleep as I have a plane to catch in a few hours.  You really had to be here.  It was worth every last minute and cent to have witnessed and participated in this moment.

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5 Responses to “Bearing witness”

  1. Annie Paul Says:

    omigod, you lucky person, how sensible of you to go there. though i don’t regret having stayed here, i watched the victory in memorable fashion. you have to hand it to the americans, they all came out looking and smelling great, including McKain…

    now he has an uphill battle, he’s taking the helm at a very tough moment, the economy’s shot, the world is in recession, the wars are not going to go away. hopefully his leadership will be as astute and sure-footed as the campaign he waged.

  2. duttybwoy Says:

    America like to talk about their greatness in many ways. You know it is true. Barack said he had faith in the American people :”I knew the American people were a decent, generous people”. In post “axis of evil” era, anti-Muslim, divided country, the a people make a complete U turn an elect a man name Barack Hussein Obama almost a complete slap in the face to the last 8 years Bush.

    I was having a discussion with a friend recently and I said to him, When is Jamaica going to get its own Barack Obama. There is so much to learn from this man even though he has not spent a day in the Oval office yet.

    Just like the American people I think that the majority of Jamaicans are “decent and generous” people. We just lack the leadership to tap into the best of us.

    Jamaica is greatly polarized on so many things, the greatest being politics and class.

    Longbench I can not imagine how good it must have been to not just witness history but actually being there.

  3. diatribalist Says:

    Annie: There is a cultural role in why McCain and Bush are going to come out looking good as well at the end. This is a momentous piece of America history — there will be as many books written about this election and Obama’s presidency as about the Civil War. McCain doesn’t want to be remembered in history as the guy tha was race-baiting Obama during the election. Also, if you lose and election and refuse to behave like a statesman (a la Peter Phillips) it would be the end of your political career.

    Finally, note that Bush is publicly promising and committed to a seamless transition. There is a law about transitions and a culture that mandates the seamless transfer of power as being a feature of our democracy. If Bush and his cronies were busy shredding papers (a la the PNP) they would all go to jail for it.

    Longbench: I am glad you had the chance to be there in person. Chicago “cowl” inna di winter but the crowd must have made it warm that night. On another note, you know sey mi nuh dey pon yu blogroll. I was certain there is some sorta error, but even after refreshing several times alas, mi nuh dey dey. Ahem.

  4. longbench Says:

    @Annie. As a college friend said to me, this is OUR moment on the mall, referring to the march on washington where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. With the able assistance of Mastercard, Visa and a few promises I might have to break before the end of the century, I wasn’t going to miss this for anything. I missed Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as it was.

    @DB Moments like this don’t come too often at all – when you are in a crowd of people and everybody is on the same wavelength, not a single bad sentiment, no complaining, no yuh-tep-pon-mi-foot, no nutt’n, just jubilation. Everybody glad fi si’ dem one a nedder. It was as if we were meeting each other for the first time, after having worked together virtually for the past 2 years. It did nice, me a tell yuh.

    @D Well, I don’t know what Bredda Phinn did have to seh bout dis election yah, but we well “know” seh di ‘ole event was divinely orchestrated; the temperature was in the 60s, clear and sunny the whole day. Bush is trying his damndest not to look like a jackass when it comes to Obama; im well know seh the election was a referendum on him. The poor thing; he’s looking pretty contrite these days, consider how much chaos his selection brought to the white house in 2004.

    As for your conspicuous absence from the jamroll, it has been rectified s’ar. Anyting else, s’ar?


  5. [...] magnitude of the moment was not lost on Long Bench, who was actually at Chicago's Grant Park: What a moment. What a speech. What a speech. What [...]


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