If you live in this world
You’re feelin’ the change of the guard
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself but I have a confession to make.
I’m in my fifties and I never thought that I would see an African-American elected President of the United States in my lifetime. I just didn’t think we had it in us but it appears that we have most assuredly come a long way.
I remember when I was nine years old, sitting in the back of my parents car getting ready to leave Torrey Pines State Beach when they announced on the radio that the authorities had found the bodies of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwermer; I remember it as distinctly as I remember when JFK was shot. The announcer called them "civil rights workers" but I didn’t know what a civil rights worker was. I thought he was calling them "civil service workers" which, to my nine year-old mind, was like a postman or the guys who picked up the trash. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to murder them. Later, when I understood who they were and what they were doing, I understood it even less. Murdering someone just because they were trying to help people register to vote? I couldn’t comprehend the hatred of a people who could think that way. I just knew that they were vicious and they were stupid.
Later, when I was in the eighth grade, I read Les Miserables in class and I came across this:
There are souls that, crablike, crawl continually toward darkness, going backward in life rather than advancing, using their experience to increase their deformity, growing continually worse, and becoming steeped more and more thoroughly in the intensifying viciousness.
…and I realized that I knew exactly the type of people Victor Hugo was writing about.
Now, forty-four long years later, I will have the opportunity to vote for (and more importantly, so will my daughter who has already cast her vote in this, her first election) an African-American for President of the United States. The same type of "person" James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner lost their lives for; not so they could become president some day, but simply because it was their right to participate and have a voice within their own country.
I won’t say ‘what took us so long?’. I’ll just say that I’m glad to be here to see this day come.