In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving
I am not here to endorse either candidate for President of the United States. I am keeping my politics to myself (and off this blog, if I can help it). But, no matter what party affiliation we have, no matter what candidate we support, no matter for whom we intend to vote on November 4, we cannot help but be proud of our country on this night.
Forty-five years ago this day, the Rev. Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and declared to the nation that he had a dream that “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.” And on this day, Senator Barack Obama – my Senator from this great state of Illinois – formally accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.
Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who spoke before Martin Luther King on that day, said to NPR that he never dreamed that one day, an African American would be nominated by a major political party to be President. Well, that day has come, and we all should be proud.
Our nation has come a long, long way since that hot day in August 1963. In many places around the country, Dr. King’s dream has come true, and “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners” have sat down and broken bread together. I am beneficiary of the struggles, fights, sweat, tears, and blood of the workers of the civil rights movement. To them I forever owe an enormous debt of gratitude, and I pledge to them that I will not take the privileges and rights for which they fought so hard for granted.
Yet, our nation still has a long way to go. There is still racial injustice and racial hatred in our country. The stains of our past have not been entirely washed out. The ghosts of intolerance and hatred still haunt our nation today. No, we have not reached the promised land yet, but we can see its birds flying in the distance; we can smell the sweet fragrance of its flowers; we can feel the soothing relief of its breezes.
These hatreds have reared its ugly head during this presidential campaign: the “whispers” of Barack Obama being a “Muslim,” that he attended a “madrasa,” that he is anti-American, all reflect that these hatreds do exist and resonate among a significant number of people in our nation. In addition, we all need to look into ourselves and examine whether we also have some of these biases and hatreds. And if we find them, we need to work to eradicate them, for the betterment of ourselves and our country.
Next week, the Republicans will descend on the Twin Cities and have their day in the sun. After Senator John McCain is formally nominated, the real presidential campaign will begin. The two candidates will outline their positions and policies. They will debate their respective approaches to the issues and problems that face our country. They will outline their philosophies to the American people to the best of their ability, and the people will have to make their choice on November 4, which is less than four months away.
Still, on this day, whether we support Senator Obama, Senator McCain, or anyone else, we must all be proud. On this day, that an African American has been nominated to be the President of a nation that was built upon the bones and blood of African slaves, we must all stand up and smile. On this day, our country – which has been so tarnished and blemished over the past 7 years – shines more brightly across the globe.
On this day, the words of Wellesley College Professor Katharine Lee Bates ring true:
O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
And I pray just as she prayed in that beautiful poem:
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.
Amen, O Precious Lord, Amen.