Vision creates The Future
Each generation has an opportunity to invest in future generations – to create (regardless of the challenges life may provide) a better life for their descendants – through vision, guts and the desire to right those things that are out of order. Life is God’s gift to each of us and it is up to the individual to create from life’s canvas and raw materials a portrait of who we are choosing to be and according to those choices who we shall ultimately become.
Recently, we experienced Barack H. Obama being sworn into the Office of the Presidency – his second term as the 44th American President. Interesting – the Lincoln Memorial has 57 steps and our first Black American President celebrated his 57th Inaugural.
So, why is it important to observe the importance of this man and his place in history? And what does the overwhelming popularity of Mr. Obama and his family teach us about the evolutionary patterns of Humanity? Let me take you back to my youth.
Picture, if you will, a girl about five years old, sitting on a park bench on a sunny summer day. The girl was me. I am seated next to my uncle who is snoozing. He is my chaperone and I am his ‘precious little
pumpkin-head.’ I am feeling bored until a little girl (accompanied by her mother) enters the scene. The little girl is wearing blue socks with ruffles at the ankles and she has the most beautiful black skin. She jumps in the sandbox and yells, ”Come on!” I am thrilled! I jump into the sand next to her. Without any introduction, we begin sifting and shaping.
I was in heaven – that is until I feel my uncle pulling my ear and sharply saying, “Get back on the bench!” When I am seated he says, “Don’t you know that stuff will rub off?”
“What will rub off?” I stammer.
“The black on her skin!” He answered – then promptly went back to sleep. When he began snoring loudly I felt safe again. Ever-so quietly, I left the bench and returned to the sand box; whereupon the little Black girl looked into my eyes directly and deeply. It seemed like a silent agreement had been made. I reach out my hand and gently touched her arm and she did the same. Giggling under our breath we began to rub each other vigorously.
No, I did not become beautifully ebony; but on that day something opened in my heart for my brothers and sisters of other races – imprinted on my heart their many faces – faces with eyes searching for acceptance and truth.
I grew up in the South and at this writing I am moving toward my 80th birthday. During my lifetime I’ve had the opportunity to observe many unfair and even cruel acts demonstrated against and among racial divisions.
The election of Barack Obama to the American Presidency isn’t about politics. It is important because it shows us the track of our evolutionary rise . . . among the obvious tracks of our tears across our many faces.
Let us travel back in time to ancient Africa. Modern anthropologists tell us the roots of the Human species are anchored there. Then, let us shift forward to the days when slave-ships lined African shorelines. A mental picture of weary Black slaves, painfully boarding the ships offends our souls; while the realization that Black tribal warriors were the deliverers of their own people into unbelievable sorrow – it hurts!
Now let us travel forward in time to a span of years from approximately 1818 to 1895 and the life of Frederick Douglass. I say approximately because Frederick did not know the date of his birth for he was taken from his mother as an infant. This was a common practice among slave owners. The practice of splitting up families kept the slave population disoriented. The purpose? To keep slaves helpless and ignorant of any safe harbor outside the plantation; wherein they spent their unhappy days and nights.
Frederick was an observer and through a set of fortunate occurrences was given the alphabet and learned a few reading skills from white children. The rest was up to Frederick. He taught himself to read. After escaping slavery he became a leader of the Abolitionist movement, and went on to become an American social reformer, a dazzling orator, writer and statesman. In 1848, Frederick was the only African-American to attend the first Women’s Rights convention and was a firm believer in the equality of all people – black, female, Native American or recent immigrant. “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” Thank you, Frederick!
In that same general era of 1820 to 1913, we track the life of Harriet Tubman. One of eleven children born to enslaved Black parents, Harriet suffered her childhood as a slave but rose to become an abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. Harriet Tubman came to be known as the Moses of her People – for she surely led her people away from the cruel pharaoh-slavers of her day – into parts of America that held the promise of freedom and safety.
You can read more about Harriet Tubman in our upcoming book, Magnificent Woman Who Are You. Also in the pages of that book is the story of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and contralto Marian Anderson. During her tenure as the First Lady lady to America’s 32nd President, Eleanor was incensed when Marian Anderson (a world famous singer) was refused permission to perform at Constitution Hall, in Washington D.C. Why? Because she was Black. Eleanor then made arrangements for Marian’s Easter concert to be performed at the Lincoln Memorial. That Easter in 1939, Eleanor rejoiced as her friend Marian sang her beauty across the hearts of seventy thousand people in the audience at Lincoln’s Memorial and to an even larger audience listening to their radios across America.
I find it most interesting that President Obama celebrated the 57th Presidential Inauguration on the same day we observe Martin Luther King Day. I don’t believe in accidents – I believe in appointments that we keep. As we look into our rear view mirror at life, we see how the investments of those who went before us; those who found the courage to ‘do the right thing’ and become the person ‘of The Moment’ creates an atmosphere that allows the generations that follow to nourish the Dream that Martin Luther King so eloquently spoke of.
Life has rhythm, heartbeat, pulse – it’s a dance. The investments of our ancestors made today possible – a reality that allowed Oprah Winfrey to rise from humble beginnings to become the powerful influence she is today. Oprah’s life’s investments will create a better future for tomorrow’s children.
Let us leave politics behind us and celebrate an American President who expresses who we are. “One People, God created; with a vision for a future free of prejudice – a people willing to make a compassionate investment in a vibrant and peaceful future for all!”
Kaih Khristé King