It is official; the campaign is over. The votes have been counted, and the nation has chosen. The 44th president of the United States of America is Senator Barack Obama – a black man.
For numerous individuals across the globe, this came as an immense relief. Not only were Americans thrilled with the presidential turnout, but even individuals in Kenya, France, and England seemed to be delighted with the news of democratic jurisdiction.
However, there may not have been a single ethnic group more content than black Americans. On the night of Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, when Obama, the nation’s president-elect, addressed the nation, signaling Senator John McCain’s defeat, sending Governor Sarah Palin back to Alaska and ultimately securing his hard earned presidency, black Americans were simply exhilarated. And who could blame us?
For the first time in history, the United States of America has a black president and a black first family.
Almost instantaneously, Obama became something of a savior, a messiah to black American people. Nevertheless, in the midst of all the anticipation and excitement, it is imperative not to forget what he stands for.
Despite the fact it is 2008, there is still a long way to go in order to make the nation a better place.
Some individuals prefer to place the blame on others, but perhaps it is time to take a look at ourselves. Change is what Obama preaches and as people who believe in what the president-elect is promising, more black Americans should take the initiative by making a change themselves.
It took eight years to get into the turbulent state America is in now, and Obama is going to have his hands full rectifying the mistakes of the previous administration. While he is busy cleaning up in the nation’s highest office, more and more black Americans should step up to plate as leaders and assist in their respective communities. It’s not a daunting task. In fact, there are many ways to do this.
Mentoring is an option. But leadership can be achieved outside of the classroom. Many Americans are unemployed, lacking funds and ultimately homeless. Volunteering at your local shelter is a compassionate way to give back to the community and lead by example.
But the utilization of education is the most influential factor in making a change. Unfortunately, statistics indicate the amount of black American students in college is less than our white counterparts. It’s a little embarrassing. To add insult to injury, it is also common knowledge the amount of black men in institutions of higher learning is considerably less than black women. What can we do to change that?
Encouragement is vital in today’s society. In order to function, survive, and make ends meet, an education is no longer an opportunity- it’s a necessity. There is a reason that education is called the “great equalizer.” Having a degree in one’s arsenal gives them the supremacy to be formidable, and blacks need it in an ever-changing civilization.
Obama came from a single-parent household. Growing up, education was pivotal to the Hawaii native, and he used education as his equalizer. He took out several student loans in order to gain knowledge and elevate his status.
We need strong leaders to encourage one another to go the extra mile. But success can be achieved in different ways. Obtaining a master’s degree or a doctorate is always great, but college isn’t the path for everyone. However, that isn’t an excuse to throw in the towel. Take up a trade. Become a barber or an electrician. Do something that productively uses your skills, aptitude and dexterity. But by keeping and accomplishing goals, individuals help set an example for the younger generation.
Leadership is what counts in our communities, and it is what we need. A change is definitely brewing. According to exit polls found on CNN.com, 96 percent of black American’s exercised their right to vote by marking their ballots for Obama.
Only three percent voted for McCain. Needless to say, we have come a long way.
Obama is not the savior. He is the example.
He is an ordinary man who plans on doing extraordinary things. We should implement his ideals into our lives in order to support his vision and make our communities better.
We elected Obama for a reason. We believed in his principles. We believed in his morals.
And we believed in what he could do for our country. It’s time to believe in ourselves.
Jay Christie is a senior magazine production student from Tallahassee, Fla. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.