Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Obama Era Begins

What a week it has been. Tuesday evening I had a house full of friends who joined me to watch the returns. I have spoken with so many people who were not willing to believe we had a win until they declared it official because we have been disenfranchised twice before when the election was stolen from our grasp. I read one story about a man in Florida who slept in the room with the absentee ballots until election night so that no one could steal them! I was afraid to hope. But Obama is all about hope, isn’t he?
Ron was in Chicago, at ground zero, visiting his family. He didn’t go to Grant Park because you had to buy a ticket to get in. So he watched on TV at his sister Wanda’s house. He called me just after 8:00 my time hollering his head off. I was in the kitchen. “They just declared him the winner,” he whooped. At that moment screams and yells erupted in my living room as my friends saw Obama declared the winner on MSNBC. “It’s real, isn’t it?” I asked Ron. “They can’t take it away from us, can they?” He responded by asking, “Are you crying, Baby?” And I was.
The group celebrating at my house were a bunch of older folks and within minutes all the cell phones lit up as everyone’s children called. Our children. With a future again. I spoke with them, both so excited to have voted to make history. The guests in my house wept and hugged and rejoiced. My friend Margo said, “I never realized I was this patriotic, but I feel so patriotic. I’m proud to be an American again.” My thoughts exactly. My family, like Margo’s, fled anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe only a couple of generations ago. We expected so much from our new homeland. It has taken a long time to stand and deliver.
On Friday night I went to synagogue, where I asked the rabbi to help me say the prayer for coming safely through life-threatening danger. Our little congregation opened the ark together, put our hands on our Torah (our scroll is a Holocaust survivor), and spoke the prayer, which thanks God/Source/Spirit/Creator for sustaining us and nurturing us through a dangerous time. We made it through. The days ahead will not be perfect, perhaps not even smooth in any sense, but we have moved into a new era. I feel an evolutionary shift occurring. All things are again possible.
I want to share with you a pastiche of the words sent to me in response to the “WOO-HOO” email I sent out on Wednesday morning celebrating the win and inviting everyone to our inaugural ball here at the Villa on January 20. After these voices, you’ll find a picture of our new team. Love and light to you all. Rosa sat, Jesse marched, Oprah spoke, and Martin died for this moment in history to arrive.

It’s not just a new day, it’s a new era! I’ve been weeping on and off all morning, and did the same last night. I’m over the moon and ecstatic. I still can’t believe it either – I feel like I really do belong to this country after all (I was starting to wonder). –Julie Mozena, San Rafael, CA
I feel as if we have been let out of a cage and can take a wonderfully full deep inspiring breath!! –Naomi Puro, Berkeley, CA
At one point as I lay in bed, I looked out at the black sky with the shining stars and started to cry. Obama's election is like one of those stars in the dark sky. When we look up and see those lights from so long ago, it helps us feel connected to others throughout time and to remember that there is something
greater than us at work here. – Margo Frank, Ukiah, CA
The only disappointment for me was the passage of Proposition 8. Damn. Otherwise, it was a marvelous night. I will be there for the Inaugural Ball. I will even rent a tuxedo and wear my shiny shoes. –Calvin Johnson, Healdsburg, CA
Of course, the celebration this morning is dampened a bit for us by the fact that Kevin and I, along with 10% (or so) of the population lost an important civil right. We got married last Monday (“again” – our commitment to each other was in Paris in 1997, as you know) as a preemptive action in case Prop 8 passed. And, unfortunately, the religious right (including the Mormons) was successful at throwing us to the back of the bus and back to 2nd class citizen status. Oh well, we know we’re married “in our hearts”, but legislated discrimination hurts. Now that we’ve broken down one barrier and put America in a better place, we’ll just hope that we can continue until EVERYONE is equal, huh?! – Dave Larson, Berkeley, CA
I new you would be excited about Obama, and we are delighted, too. – Helen Lawrenson, Fife, Scotland
When I voted, I swear I stared at my ballot for a good 15 seconds before I moved to the next page. It looked SO good to see: D - Barack Obama and see the red X next to it. I lingered over the ballot and took longer than I needed to before I hit "Submit Ballot." Also, I read the words to the Black National Anthem again today and they have a lot more meaning now. – Keith Sowa (my nephew who served in Iraq for 2 years), Baltimore, MD
Isn't it amazing to regain the feeling that we actually live in a democracy again?!?!?! It wasn't until the concession speech that I could relax the fear that the shadow government was still going to pull the rug out from under us. – Elizabeth Raybee, Potter Valley, CA
I am hopeFULL and ecstatic. Maybe I should consider a job in Washington starting in January. – Lori Hinrichson, Putney, VT
When I called, my dad couldn't speak because he was crying. Mom was popping champagne. –Liz Logan, Marietta, GA
Yes, we are all jubilant!!! What a great time to be witnessing better times. I wonder how many other African-Americans did not get the chance to show what they have to offer because of color blindness. –Sylvia Winer, Schenectady, NY (a lifelong friend of my mother’s)
I can't believe it; for the first time in 8 years my brain is not hurting. – Jan Heissinger, White Plains, NY
Oh Yes We Did! Over this long 8 years, I've become so accustomed to carrying the burden of our destructive Federal Government that I forgot what real hope for the United States feels like. Last night, we counted down the seconds until the last polls closed and CNN announced the victory, then cheered, danced; The noise was deafening. Outside, bells were ringing and hundreds were in the streets high fiving everyone they passed, even those in passing cars. My car is wrecked from a recent accident; My basement is infested with hundreds of wasps; I don't know where the money will come from to pay my bills; and I am HAPPY! – Brother Bill Wachspress, Lawrence, KS
Could not work all day just had CNN sitting on my computer and zooming back and forth watching and counting. It's been a long time coming and I keep thinking singing (poorly) that Nina Simone song - It's a new day, a new dawn. –Pamela Miller, Auckland, New Zealand
Mom if you don't sit down and calm down somewhere… – my darling daughter
This has been the most emotional election I've ever experienced in my fifty years. I am filled with hope and elation - I feel so happy and proud of my country right now! I have been particularly moved by the stories and faces of older black folks, who are descended from slaves, who grew up under segregation, who weren't able to vote, who had to go to the back of the bus, who now can see someone who looks like them holding the highest office in the land. What joy they must be feeling today! And yet... Here, in California, those same voters have told me to go back to the back of the bus. More people voted for the right of chickens to have bigger cages than voted for Leslie's & my right to be married. I am trying to hold onto hope, the realization that the world has already changed so much more than I ever thought possible when I came out thirty years ago -- our day will indeed come. Three steps forward, two steps back. – Eris Weaver, Rohnnert Park, CA
Joel, who has been very active in the campaign, including making forays to Pennsylvania to campaign whenever he has a break from classes, called last night. I can't remember the last time I heard such excitement in his voice, probably when he was a little kid at Christmas. As corny as it sounds, I am feeling proud to be an American today. –Tom Tift, Albany, NY
Today almost every child in the After School Program couldn't wait to tell me that Obama had won and that he was our 44th president! The excitement of the children about a new president is something I have never seen before. How many children see themselves in Obama and see a bigger world of possibilities for themselves? I don't remember a time in life when I knew, I felt, that I was in the middle of history that I was experiencing the world change. The thrill of watching the videos from around the world of people celebrating, having my college-aged daughter, filled with joy, call and hold up her phone so I could hear the sounds of the spontaneous celebration that erupted in the quad at her dorms. – Janice Gartin-Kessler, San Pablo, CA
WOO HOO IS RIGHT MAH SISTAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My prayers remain strong that this new day will continually be blessed with good and just works! – Vera White-Crowl, Richmond, IN
Woo-hoo indeed! It's a new day. I can feel change in the air. Though very sad on the loss of civil liberties. [Referring to the passage of Prop. 8] It‘s the “end of an error,” as they said in Pravda. – Jennie Schacht, Oakland, CA
Prayer for the day from my sister-in-law: Barack atah Illinois, Elohenu melech ha'olam, boray p'ri ha-electorallandslide. –Deb Wachspress, Yardley, PA


Liz Logan said...

thank you, Amy, this is lovely... I think I need to make a scrapbook page out of it!

sharad sheth said...

Dear Amy,
I was walking up in air when I heard the news. I remembered " I have a dream" And our Gandhiji and his simple words of determinations.
The dream will bear great results for your country and the world..
Sharad Sheth. M.Arch (1976) Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.