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The recent events propelling an almost unknown and unique quantity into the White House have captured the imagination and hopes of all Americans and I daresay the entire world.
Many pundits and observers speak of his charisma, his presence, his intellectualism and his empathy. TV anchors laud his good looks and fitness, noting his workout routines. World leaders talk about the "hope" he brings.
I am at heart a historian and studied that discipline at Howard University during the height of the civil rights era. I very much believe that Obama is what some call a “Century Man/Person.”
An individual like an Obama appears perhaps once in a century in any particular sport, discipline or endeavor. Babe Ruth was a Century Man, Mohandas Gandhi was a Century Man, Indira Gandhi was a Century Person, Tiger Woods is a Century Man and there are many others, males and females, black and white.
However, Obama’s emergence from relative obscurity pushes us all – the human race – to an Event Horizon. That is how significant his rise to power is.
To African-Americans the rise of Obama is almost unimaginable. His emergence puts us all right “in” history.
Obama’s ascendancy is history and it gives each of us, no matter what race, sex, gender or political or religious persuasion, an opportunity to help and to shape the history of our nation and, perhaps the world.
Obama cannot do it alone or with the handful of advisors he is gathering around him to provide him with national security, economic and political advice.
His victory is also our victory and that victory demands payment from us. The payment that we owe for his victory is to work.
Each in our own way has to work to define the historical moment Obama has brought so that the moment becomes past, living and future history.
It requires each of us to understand the reality of the hole that we have dug for ourselves and to know that history will not permit a single person alone to fill the hole – rather history demands that we all take a handful of dirt and help fill it in.
History demands that we remake the future of our nation in the image of how we want it to be; that we remake the history of our nation so that we actualize the true greatness of America, the Founders, America’s dead slaves, and its future citizens of the Nation by broadening our minds to hope.
There is hard work ahead - and much sacrifice. Much patience and determination are needed even as the magnitude of what has happened begins to sink in.
To be sure, there are still pockets of ignorance in our nation - pockets of individuals who do not “feel” American history as a living, breathing thing that energizes the being of the entire nation.
Rather, those small pockets see history – if they sense it at all, as dry, dead pages in books – as old neo-historic memories and wives tales. History is a living thing - just look at Barack Hussein Obama and you cannot but sense and see history.
What a marvelous moment in the ponderous inexorable movement of humankind.
Let us not squander it with unrealistic expectations. It’s time for all of us to lend a hand in whatever manner we see fit.