On this unusually historic morning, I went about my usual routine of prepping for work. As on any day, I stood in the mirror curling my hair as Kaelyn stood on the edge of the tub next to me, chirping away non-stop. I think I now understand the root of Kaelyn's obsession with Obama:
Me: Kaelyn, guess what?
Me: Obama won!
K2: (eyes wide, smile wider) He WON? He's going to bring my present now?
Me: Huh? (dawning realization) Ohh!!! No, sweetie! He's going to be our president now! He's the boss!
K2: He's going to bring my present in a box?
Me: No, silly. He's going to be our president, which means he's the boss, and he gets to live in the White House!
K2: He's going to bring my present in a box, and he's giving a white horse?
Me: You're just three, but you've already mastered the art of selective hearing like a pro.
K2: And I'm cute, too!
Me: Who said you were cute?
K2: Barack Obama!
On a September Sunday morning in 1963, members of the Ku Klux Klan planted a bomb at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The building, which was the center of the surrounding Black community and the location of many civil rights rallies and planning meetings, was destroyed. Four little girls – an 11-year old and three 14-year olds – were killed as they prepared in the church basement for the Sunday morning service. The explosion shook the city of Birmingham, Alabama, but the reverberations were felt across the entire country.
As the heart and organizational headquarters of the Civil Rights Movement, Birmingham was no stranger to racial unrest. Several other bombings and riots had occurred in the city earlier in the year. But this bombing was different. It was a catalyst for the growth of the Civil Rights Movement. The intent of the bombing was to demoralize and weaken, but instead, it awakened and strengthened. Over the next year and beyond, people of all races unified to spread the message and fight for equality. The deaths of the four innocent girls prodded many to wake up and pay attention, to not only talk about change, but to do something about change.
Last night, I could not stop my tears from streaming as I impatiently waited for our President Elect's acceptance speech. When Obama finally took the stage, it was his daughters, not him, to whom my eyes were drawn.
Fourty-five years ago, little Black girls were victims of hate, intolerance, and injustice, killed without reason in a house of God. I am here to see the day – my children are here to see the day when little Black girls will live with reason in the White House. My children will know the significance of November 4, 2008. This day is the result of years of change and is the start of change for years to come. What was once a far-flung dream for my people is now a reality for my children.
In Malia and Natasha, pretty little Black girls with their hair spun in to silky ringlets, I saw the faces of every child. I saw everyone who had ever been told you can't because you're Black/gay/fat/stupid/different/weird/wrong/a woman/_______. Malia and Natasha represent my little Black girls and boys, and all the children of their generation who won't have to grow up fighting so hard against you can't…
because we stood up and said yes we can.