Monday, January 14, 2008

The Anchor of Hope

By Barbara Carter, Office Manager and Assistant to the Director at the Kirwan Institute

When asked by my co-workers if I would be willing to write a piece for the Kirwan Institute’s blog, I was befuddled. My thought was, “don’t they know that I’m all over the place?” Any issue in America today that affects Black people touches my life in some shape, form, or fashion.

After giving the idea considerable thought, I agreed to put some of my thoughts together and write about my feelings and the conflict I feel in my spirit about a Black man, Barack Obama, running for President of the United States.

I am a baby boomer, born in 1953, and I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. I remember well what life was like in Chicago in the 1960s for poor and working-class Black Americans. I remember segregation and living in ethnically defined neighborhoods—you lived where “your kind” lived. If a Black person was going to and from a job in a neighborhood outside of where they lived, their lives were at risk, especially after dark.

I also remember the hope Black Americans felt, including my parents, when in 1961 John F. Kennedy became the President of the United States. I also remember the feelings of overwhelming sadness, despair, and loss of hope Black Americans had when on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was senselessly assassinated. Seemingly, to us as Black Americans, this happened because he wanted to help all Americans have a better life. I was ten years old then, but I remember.

I remember in the late 60s, people began to talk about a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. Once again, Black Americans began to have hope. I remember when the reality began to set in of what Dr. King was fighting for and against. I remember when on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was senselessly assassinated. It became clear to us as Black Americans that Dr. King was murdered only because he wanted to help ensure that all Americans would have a chance to live better lives than they had before. I remember the riots and that we, as Black Americans, were destroying the only things we had—our neighborhoods and each other. I was fifteen years old then, but I remember.

Last but not least, I remember when New York’s junior U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy became a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was another person who, it seemed, only wanted to help ensure that the United States became a better place to live for all Americans. On June 5, 1968 Senator Kennedy was fatally wounded by gunshots at a Los Angeles hotel.

There are reasons why I dread supporting Senator Barack Obama’s quest for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination. I do not want to sign my name to anything that might guarantee that he will lose his life because he only wants to help America become a better place for all to live.

I am almost certain that this is something that he has discussed with his family and close friends. It is a thing that cannot be overlooked.

I am very proud of Senator Barack Obama and his “Audacity of Hope”. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Senator Obama is well qualified to run our country better than most. Nonetheless, I would rather prefer him not try to become President at this time, because of what he represents to so many people in this country and the world. Has our society really changed that much to welcome this audacious human being to become the next U.S. President for the benefit of all?

I hope the time will arrive when there will be a different outcome for the men and women who crusade for justice and fairness for all humankind; a state of the world where differences are accepted and embraced; a state of the world that safely embraces those who after considering the risks selflessly and putting aside their safety and well-being and that of their families, step forward for justice and fairness. I hope that that time will arrive for those who tirelessly continue to strive to help create ways to improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Therefore, I would like Senator Obama to continue to be what he is to me and others today, an “Anchor of Hope”.

Senator Obama, please stay around for a while longer with your family and with us. Continue to give your gift of hope to all Americans.

1 comment:

  1. I truly appreciate your sincerity and thoughtfulness. However, I wonder if your comments are also laced with fear, which totally negates the audacity of hope?