GAYLE DANIELLE LEWIS-DANIELS
January 21, 2008
I registered to vote in 1976 and took part in every election since then – partly because I enjoy the process but mostly because a lot of people did some extraordinary things in order for me to have the right to vote. I don’t take any of this for granted. Throughout all of the elections, I have never publicly endorsed a presidential candidate; however, this time I am proudly supporting Sen. Barack Obama.
The lack of support for Sen. Obama by our African-American leaders has disheartened me. I may be naïve but I thought those who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have jumped at the opportunity to support Sen. Obama, and after hearing his message of hope, would have endorsed him without hesitation! I thought the politicians, who were sent to the state offices and to D.C. – primarily because of the majority of African-American voters in their districts – would remember what that type of support felt like and ultimately embrace this dynamic agent for change. Instead, some of them have chosen to rally against him and support another candidate – often because they were friends of “The Clintons” or because “President Clinton did so much for Blacks”. Sometimes I wonder if they are actually voting for Bill instead of Hillary.
For those who don’t believe Sen. Obama can’t win, he won’t if we don’t support him. For those who believe he’s inexperienced, I think of all of the incumbent politicians who were unseated because we either wanted change or because we believed in the dreams of the inexperienced politicians who replaced them. I’m disappointed that the limits placed on us are often by us.
During a meeting to organize the local Obama group, one of his supporters said: “What do I tell my grandchildren when I’m asked what I did to support Sen. Obama?” That profound statement made me think about my own house. What do I tell my children, grandchildren, and the youth I work with? When our youth see the world as it is and not as it can become, I want to tell them about an awesome and articulate candidate for president who believed in the audacity to HOPE; to work to change divisive politics by saying “No more politics as usual”; and his willingness to unify this broken country. I want to tell them we are not limited by what we currently see but by not believing in what can be. I want to tell them we not only deserve to be in the state houses but in the White House.
My mother was 72 years old a couple of weeks ago. She said her generation struggled, worked hard, and made it through — just to see this hour. I am voting for my grandparents who were very active in “the movement” but didn’t live to see this hour. I am voting for the young girls who were killed in a Birmingham church who, through no fault of their own, were casualties of the bigotries of this nation. I’m voting for the people who refused to ride the busses, were hosed, jailed, and beaten, and who sat at lunch counters for this hour. I’m voting for the young men and women who are participating in this unpopular war for this hour. I’m voting for Sen. Barack Obama because I, too, have the audacity to hope!!!
Gayle D. Daniels