But I just realized my kids have the day off on Election Day. And they will come with me again. And even though they have come with me to vote on many occasions--perhaps most--I will never, not ever, forget the overwhelming emotion I felt taking them with me in 2008.
So I'm putting this back up. I am not tech-savvy enough to know if the comments people posted then will reappear. If they do, great; if not, there is no pressure to comment again.
I remember your words. And I thank you.
My tears are not tears for me--they are not born of some great hope that Barack Obama is going to make my life better. And as for the country, although I hope he will bring about important change, I labor under no misapprehension that he is The One, our savior, a modern age Messiah.
I cried because of what I brought to the occasion: An undergraduate degree in American History with a concentration in African American Studies, a law degree pursuant to which I studied the legal history of race in our country, and a son who is the same race as our new president.
That an African American man of enormous intellect and talent can ascend to our nation's highest office is no small thing, even now, given what came before. In a country where black people could once lawfully be bought and sold, used and abused, bred and killed, it is no small thing, even now. In a country where, in my parents' lifetime, a little girl named Ruby Bridges went to school under armed guard and surrounded by the voices of white adults shouting at her and threatening her and one even showing her a coffin with a black doll in it, it is no small thing, even now.
Imagine studying all of this with your own African American son. Imagine discussing slavery and sharecropping and segregation and anti-miscegenation laws and then finally, finally, Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia, and the Voting Rights Acts, and Selma, and Thurgood Marhshall and Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer and Rosa Parks and Malcolm X and...Barack Obama.
And imagine taking your son with you into the voting booth, both in the primaries and the general election, and as soon as you enter the school where you are assigned to vote, you look at your son and think, we are voting for an African American for president.
And you thank God that your son has no true idea of how big this is, even now.
When I look at the abilities of this president, I am impressed beyond measure. But I do not think President Obama is perfect, nor have I loved every position he has ever taken. I am realistic about the problems we face and the pressures that will come to bear on the President.
I cried not because of what I hope President Obama can do for me. I cried because of what his election undid for so many. I cried not because I think he is some perfect politician who will magically solve our problems.
In the end, I cried because I believe he can inspire a searching nation to fix itself.