It was almost like the energy was crackling in the air. Even from way high up where I was, I could see the expression on everyone's faces. A mixture of excitement and anticipation. The underlying feeling that something big was going on, we're not sure exactly what, but we know we need to be a part of it.
It was like someone took Dr. King's dream and shaped it into a photograph. Every type of person from every walk of like you could possibly imagine. White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, every hybrid of mix in between, standing shoulder to shoulder, smiling, laughing, helping each other find and hold seats, lifting up children who were not their own to see. Elderly people in wheel chairs. Infants. Toddlers straining on tippy toes. Baby boomers in docksiders and khakis. High school kids with backpacks. Young professionals in $2,000 suits and $600 shoes. Grad school students with Chemistry books studying between speakers. Blue collar. White collar. Jeans and t-shirts. Sunday best. Sorority and fraternity colors. Straight, gay, lesbian, old married couples, lovers, brothers, sisters, friends locking arms to maneuver through the massive crowds. The kindred spirit was palpable, the atmosphere ringing with harmony. I've never heard such a beautiful melody.
It was like someone sensed that the fundamental things that all human beings desire, despite age, race, color, religion, or creed could be transcendent to the differences embodied therein. Like someone felt that now was a time for change. For prosperity through unification. That the things that divide us are far less powerful than the desires that connect us. Responsibility seemed to be the unspoken theme.
It was like someone had taken what is commonly relegated to the lowest form of human life on this earth, the most hated, most repressed symbol of inequality and lifted it. Like someone had taken this beautiful creature and tested it's core. Told it that it would never amount to anything. Took away it's family structure, it's financial opportunities. Stacked the odds against it. Beat it. Lynched it. Hosed it down. Told lies about it. Made it an icon of fear, of desolation, of violence, of wasted potential and inferior intellect, of hatred and insignificance. Broke it down to within an inch of its last breath.
And yet and still, here is that symbol, standing before me, the ability to change the entire world mere inches from it's grasp.
A black man is running for president.
I closed my eyes and felt the silence around me, cut only by the powerful but still comforting sound of Barack Obama's voice. Tears streamed down my face. Here I am, 23 years old, and watching one of my own, one that, by all accounts, should be the pimped out, strung out, violent archetype our society tries to make black men be. I don't think I can even recall another moment in my life that compares to the weight of that realization.
It's like someone took a boy from my old neighborhood. Took him from impossible circumstance and told him to live his life according to one fundamental premise:
Yes you can.