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Thanksgiving, Barack Obama, and the dreams of black folks

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The political landscape of our country has changed dramatically since last Thanksgiving. Back in 2007, many of us were just trying to survive the last leg of the George Bush administration; keeping our fingers crossed that the glaring domestic and foreign policy problems would hold until a new president could be elected. That did not happen. We’re in the middle of two foreign wars that are getting worse and the country is in the depths of a recession, but there is hope with the election of Barack Obama.

In a CNN/Opinion poll released a week after the November 4th presidential election, 80 percent of African-Americans surveyed felt the election of Obama was a dream come true, one they did not expect to see in their lifetime. On the other hand, white Americans questioned in the poll were not as thrilled; 70 percent said it was not a dream come true.

As an African-American, I join in the jubilation over Obama’s election for many reasons, but mostly because of what it says about race in this country. Despite being black, Obama won because he had the best plan for changing what is wrong with America. The best person for the position won. That has been the goal and cornerstone of the civil rights movement since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. laid down his life for change in America. In his historic 1963 “I have A Dream,” speech Dr. King said he dreamed of a future where “… my four little children may one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Obama taking the oath of office on January 20, 2009 is a dream come true for many of us. However, I don’t think anyone sees him as a Messiah who can walk on water or a genie who can change things with the wave of his hand.

To borrow a favorite phrase from the president-elect, “at this defining moment,” Barack Obama is the best leader to guide our country through the turbulence ahead. A majority of Americans who voted in the recent presidential election agree with me. I add that to my list of things to be very thankful for this Thanksgiving.

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