Monday, August 25, 2008

Tears of joy and gratitude...

Let me simply be clear: I am a sucker for America! I love baseball, I am a deep patriot in love with our history (warts and all) and I weep when people tell the American story in all its fullness. I stand up and sing when the National Anthem is shared and cross my heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, too. So you can imagine how I am feeling after watching sister Michelle Obama at the opening of the Democratic National Convention. (I am sure I will have a similar moment come Labor Day and the start of the Republican show, too.) But let me be clear: watching Michelle's mother - that beautiful, dignified, strong and saintly old black woman who has endured the best and worst of America - as Michelle spoke turned me into a non-stop fountain of tears of pride and hope and sorrow.

When I was working with my African American colleagues in Cleveland for school board reform and was invited into the homes of these black matriarchs... when I was organizing with black Mississippi woodcutters in areas that were just a few generations away from share croppers... when I stumbled upon a woodcutter's family outside of Philadelphia, MS who had befriended Goodman, Schwerner and Channey back in the days of Voter Registration in Mississippi and told me their stories around a table of butter beans and cornbread with my 5 year old daughter... when they gave us a small cot to sleep on at the back of their house when I couldn't make it home after a day of organizing... I was blessed - and I saw all their faces again and more in Michelle's momma during tonight's speech.

All their sacrifice, commitment, faith, agony and strength... and I was so proud to have journeyed a little bit with them. And so proud that Michelle was now speaking on behalf of their deepest dreams... and that those dreams are my dreams, too. And then Richard Daley was on TV - it was 40 years ago that his daddy turned the dogs and hoses and troops on my friends protesting the war in Vietnam - and now his son was celebrating a genuine civil rights champion. It was a moment of hope and prayer for me.

Made me think of this song from the last election by John Mellencamp and Travis Tritt - a democrat and a republican - about maybe finding a way to realize our deepest dreams together.



It was a night of many, many tears for me... and I know many, many more were shared by those who have sacrificed far more than I can ever imagine. I give thanks to God that I have had the chance to walk with some of them and pray that we shall overcome.

No comments: