Forty-five years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of more than 200,000 people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and addressed the inequities he saw in a nation divided over its future. “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation,” he told them. “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”
King didn’t live long enough to see the change his words would inspire in America. Four decades later, our nation has made “the pledge that we shall always march ahead. “We cannot turn back.”
And for the first time in years, Americans have made the overwhelming decision to look forward. The election of Barack Obama is a milestone in our nation’s history. It’s not simply the finish of what seemed like a never-ending campaign; it’s a progressive shift that shows the majority of the country is truly invested in moving off the discouraging path we seemed to have followed for the past eight years.
Obama has proven his dedication to the change our country needs. He has the drive to infuse new life into a stale government unable to keep up with the roadblocks rising in the face of the next generation’s chance at the American dream.
And he is not blindly optimistic. “I’m talking about something more substantial,” he told the Democratic National Convention in 2004. “It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs, the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores, the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta, the hope of a mill worker’s son who dares to defy the odds, the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.”
All these archetypes he mentions make up the broken country Obama will inherit when he takes office in January. We’re stuck in two wars the majority of Americans feel we never should have initiated in the first place. Our economy is the worst it’s been in decades. The Bush administration has disenfranchised us from our leaders. H We’ll admit, Obama may not be the most experienced man our country has put into the Oval Office, but he is the fresh perspective we need to move forward into a world that’s radically different than it was since any of us was born. His ability to motivate Americans to vote and get involved in this year’s election is evidence alone Obama has what it takes to unite our country.
Finally, as a nation, we’ve stood together as to say, “We’ve had enough. The time for change is now.” It’s long overdue, and with Obama at the helm, real reform seems possible.
Forty-five years ago, a man like Obama couldn’t have even run for president. America has answered its own call for change and realized a dream decades in the making. If you didn’t vote for Obama yesterday, it’s time to put aside our differences.
Our faith is strong in the choice America’s made, and we must be united. If we can do that, King’s dream will be realized, and the American dream will have triumphed once again.
– The Daily Kent Stater editorial board