Inspiring Words, Courageous Actions

Inspiring Words, Courageous Actions

President Obama is a published author and a man who considers himself a writer. So, expectations were high today when he delivered his inaugural address.

Time Magazine has the speech in its entirety. It’s well worth reading several times over.

Here’s one of the best parts, IMO:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

I love how President Obama calls out “the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things” and says they are directly responsible for our nation’s “prosperity and freedom.” What a celebration of American ingenuity and a call to arms for entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes. The nation needs us to risk, to do, to make—now more than ever.

The Speech in Grant Park

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” -Obama

See the text of President-Elect Obama’s inspirational speech at Grant Park in Chicago last night. By the way, Grant Park was the setting for a scene of another kind 40 years ago during the Democratic National Convention. I’m sure Obama’s team chose Grant Park in part for that reason. It’s a healing move.

Can We Rise Above The Ugliness?

Can We Rise Above The Ugliness?

Now that Barack Obama is the Democrat Party’s “presumtive nominee”, it’s time to address the real roadblocks he’s going to face in the general election.

According to The Washington Post, (and my own observations) racial hatred is still commonplace in America.

For all the hope and excitement Obama’s candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed — and unreported — this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They’ve been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they’ve endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can’t fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: “It wasn’t pretty.” She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: “Hang that darky from a tree!”

Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, said she, too, came across “a lot of racism” when campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania. One Pittsburgh union organizer told her he would not vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said, offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: “White people look out for white people, and black people look out for black people.”

Naturally, Obama campaign officials say such incidents are isolated, that the experience of most volunteers and staffers has been overwhelmingly positive. But let’s be brutally honest, we all know people at work, at church or in our families who harbor racist views.

Once the Republican hate machine starts running commercials that paint Obama and his wife as radical, uppity blacks, moderates are going to move toward McCain and in all likelihood those moderates in working class states like Pennsylvania and Ohio will deliver the White House to the Grand Old Party, once again. I’d like to be wrong, but that’s how I see it unfolding.