Myra Bean Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Myra Bean

Obama inauguration is a chance for many to witness history

Witnessing history.

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That is what today is all about.

For Black America, many did not believe they would live to see the day an African-American person be inaugurated as president of the United States of America.

To become the frontrunner in the presidential election, Barack Obama had to separate himself from the crowd. He had to take on the hate groups – racial, sexual, political – and speak with a voice people were willing to listen to. He had to do something different from what other black candidates had done in the past. He had to win people from all walks of life and convince them that he was presidential material.

Some believe supporting Obama was an easy decision. For some that vote may have been easy because they only voted race or party. For others, it was a vote against race or party and that vote was a lot harder to cast.

With Obama’s election, one era ends and another begins.

As the world watches the changes going on today in America, I’m reminded of other events in our country’s history that have signaled change.

Memories of The Great Depression in the 1930s still bring shivers and the people today wonder if the United States is headed in that direction of bleakness and poverty. Those who were children in those days are now elderly in these days. Some of them horde food in preparation for another go-round with the economy.

Some people can remember the December 7, 1941 attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor  and the calls and cries that went out that fateful morning of the lost lives of those sailors. That event triggered America’s entry into four years of war that followed.

On September 11, 2001, America was attacked again. No one could ever imagine they would be victims of terrorism so heinous that the thoughts still bring tears and sorrow seven years later. More victims are claimed in the war launched for retribution and revenge.

Today’s date will no doubt join other significant ones in our country’s history

This country has elected presidents of all backgrounds: war heroes, rich, poor, young, old, assassinated, impeached, now a black man.

People who live and work in America are now proud to be called Americans because America went against the grain and voted to put an African-American in the highest office in the land.

We know Obama is a smart man. How well will he handle the presidency?

The answer to that question will become clearer as the years roll by. We had to give other unknowns a shot in that chair. Now, we have to give him that shot.

Obama might be “for” black Americans, but he is also “for” America. He is not a one-race president. That was the point that finally stood out for me when taking his measure as presidential material. What he accomplished was by no means an easy feat. He had to convince me and others like me that he could do this job, not just because of his race but because he weighs and measures his decisions about this country.

As for me, I am glad to be alive at this time and to have witnessed history in the making. I cannot wait to see what’s next if we, as a country, keep an open mind.