Election 2008: Fulfillment of the Dream Deferred
In his 1959 poem, Langston Huges asked: "What happens to a dream deferred?" Although Langston did not live to see the first fulfillment of that dream as last night the nation elected its first black man to the presidency by a landslide of electoral votes, one cannot help that imagine that somewhere up there in poet heaven, he knows.
Yesterday in St. Louis there was a record turnout of voters, rising into the 70th percentile. In my morning journey to the voting box, I waited over an hour...while it's reported that some folks waited as long as 8 hours for the privilege to vote. The line was integrated, young and old, black and white. There was orderly, hushed, expectation, like the church we entered to cast our votes. We were standing in the church of American Democracy, and filled with hope.
Later, that evening in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, at the Democratic election watch party, in a ballroom filled with Obama supporters, the crowd went wild when the election was declared in Obama's favor. Screaming, jumping up and down, hugging, and crying, we celebrated together...black and white together...young and old together...in the most integrated event I've attended in St. Louis.
Two young black boys, twins, sitting on the floor next to me, executed a victory dance before we all stood up to cheer. In the joyous faces and bodies of those two boys, I felt an embodiment of the promise Obama holds for the African-American community, the next generation, the country, and the world.
On my way out the door, as I headed home to watch the rest of the analysis on my TV at home, I saw a black woman ready to jump out of her skin with jubilation. I reached out and hugged her to me, hard. As she thanked me, and I thanked her, she said, "We're gonna work together, now, aren't we?" and pointed back and forth between the two of us, representing some of the healing that has occurred in the racial divide in the United States.
With a black man passing by, we both acknowledged what a great night it was. "Yes, a wonderful night," he said. And, it was...along with Obama's speech with its emphasis on the full scope of history that has brought his to this place.
So, no, Langston didn't live long enough to see this night. But, he was part of it as he raised up his strong voice in favor of greater justice.
Langston didn't live long enough, and Barack's grandmother passed away just two short days before witnessing this day.
But 106 year old Ann Nixon Cooper of Tennesee did. Click this link to learn more.
Go to NY Times link here to read and hear voices from five leading contemporary poets commenting in verse on the 2008 election.
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