Never Would Have Made It
When Africans first arrived in this country on slave ships, no one would have ever dreamed of this day. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s when African Americans struggled to simply obtain the right to vote in this country, no one would have ever dreamed that this day would come during their lifetime.
The triumphs and tribulations of African Americans have always been a result of the struggles of our ancestors and our faith in God. When our ancestors were struck viciously with whips on plantations, it was their faith and perseverance that got them through the dark days of slavery. When previous generations of African American protestors were hosed down and attacked by police dogs, it was faith in God’s promises and their own personal strength that got them through the horrific days of the Jim Crow South.
As gospel star Marvin Sapp sings in his 2008 smash hit, “Never Would Have Made It,” as result of that faith we are stronger, wiser and much better. And on November 4, 2008, we finally made it. The unthinkable has happened. Barack Obama is the 44th President of the greatest country on the planet. However, as many celebrate in the streets of America, we must remember that the accomplishments that America is celebrating is a direct result of the blood, sweat and tears of those who came before us.
For Obama, it was the dedication of his late grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, that ensured that he would have a better life than she experienced. It was the times when she would go without purchasing that new car or dress for herself, just so he could enjoy the things that she did not have during her childhood. That sacrifice allowed him to attend Columbia University, and later Harvard University School of Law. That sacrifice gave him the belief that he could break down all barriers, even the one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. As a result, that sacrifice has changed America for the better.
For my family it was my grandmothers, Mazie Necessary and the late Gragulee Smith who took on extra work so that their children would not have to work and could receive the education that they were denied. Obama’s presidential victory is a direct result of the sacrifices that previous generation made so that we could enjoy a day like November 4, 2008.
Nevertheless, it will take more than a presidential victory to correct the problems that exist in the Black community. The fact that a descendant of Africa can become the leader of the free world should prove to all children that they can achieve anything that they put their mind to, but it will take hard work, sacrifice, and determination and of course hope.
It was the hope of people like Andrew Young, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Congressman John Lewis that culminated in so many young African Americans becoming active in the political process and made such a day possible because we never would have made it without the sacrifices that all have made to make America the country it is today.
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Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.