And Why Having His Inauguration On Martin Luther King Jr.’s Holiday Is Icing On The Cake…
As President Obama’s 2nd Inauguration rapidly approached, I found myself thinking back to 2008 to the night I watched the first African American become President of the United States. I knew it was possible that I would see this moment during my lifetime, but I didn’t know if it was going to be anytime soon.
My parents grew-up in the segregated South during the 50s and 60s which makes me in the first generation of my family that was born with the ability to drink water from the same fountain as other White Americans, be admitted to the same hospital and receive the same quality of Education.
When we hear about the Civil Rights Movement, society has tricked us into believing that was ‘so long ago’; but actually it wasn’t that LONG ago. African Americans have become so complacent post the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision and have not continued the legacy we inherited to fight the rights for every American- regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 – legislation largely passed due to high profile efforts of Martin Luther King Jr.; made it illegal to discriminate against African Americans and women but there is still more work to do.
President Obama has largely furthered that dream with the passage of The Lilly Ledbetter Fair
Pay Act (which was the first bill he signed into law) that amends the Civil Rights Act and gives protection against pay discrimination and allowed for the potential for further improvements and expansion to our nation’s civil rights laws.
Additionally, President Obama is the first President in over 70 years to pass major healthcare reform with The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010.
His list of his other Presidential achievements in the face of historic Republican opposition is too numerous to name but here is a like to the running tally- http://http://obamaachievements.org/list.
But stepping down from my President Obama soapbox let me get back to my original point-
President Barack Obama’s re-election was confirmation that while there are many Americans on opposite sides of the spectrum on topics such as healthcare, immigration, marriage equality and the future direction of our nation; when threaten with an uncertain future- Americans will ban together to make our voices heard.
President Obama’s re-election signaled to the world that we are not destroyed by our differences but united in our spirit of democracy that Americans will not allow the fringe of our country – whether to the left or the right to weaken this nation
President Obama told us on election night of 2012, “Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.
It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people…
…America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunities and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.
I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.
And together, with your help and God’s grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth…”
So today’s as we celebrate the 2nd Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States who also just happens to be the first African American to hold that position; let us not forget the struggle, fight and sacrifices that have been made throughout the history that made today possible.
Hopefully, we can channel that passion to galvanize a new generation to resume the work that needs to be done to better perfect our Union for every American citizen.