It is magnificent. At last, we can exhale and celebrate this long-awaited dream come true. Such a magical evening of historic significance, great emotion and immense pride to see this election deliver the best promise of hope and change. I wished we could be in our old neighborhood in Oak Park, a short train ride from the celebration in Grant Park.
In 2004, Erin called me from Chicago as the DNC convention prepared for the keynote speaker. "Stay up, Mom...you have to listen to Barack Obama tonight. He is so amazing and this is the beginning of our future." I remember that evening, his speech, its transformative promise, and like so many, I was powerfully inspired by Obama and his brilliant message of hope. Four years later, I am so proud. Proud that I was there from that moment, that my children and family worked so hard to help see this through, that this change has come about peacefully with incredible passion. My 78 year old mother overnighted her late arriving absentee ballot back to Missouri to make the deadline!
Erin sent an email early last night to her colleagues, campaign workers, family and friends. It makes me proud too. In fact, it makes me cry. Pride ... and tremendous joy.
Just sending you ALL some love on this historic day. I'm dying to be in Chicago, my city, tonight. But that's what is amazing about this moment: this event has actually made me feel more connected to you at home - and all of you everywhere, not to mention all the other friendships we've formed or deepened as a result of this campaign. But again, this is what this election is all about - widening our circle.
I'd like to thank each of you for all the work you've done, no matter what form it took. For some it has been a deep internal questioning process, for others it has been a wild excursion into civic engagement. All of it is important and no matter tonight's outcome, we're all changed. I think for the better. And I hope what we've learned will stay with us for years to come. One look at the images of the poll lines, especially in our "chocolate cities," should be enough reward for any of us.
You will all recognize the last line of this poem. We taught this to our kids at Young Chicago Authors, when the sentiment seemed a far-off dream, someone else's reality. A motivational poster with the line hung on the wall of our Posse Chicago office, where urban public high school students labored to transform the demographic of four-year colleges. It has echoed throughout this campaign and has long been the motto of social justice workers.
It was written for another country's victory. Now it resonates with us, in a new timbre of solidarity.
All my love, at this last second with the world as we know it,
Poem for South African Women
by June Jordan, 1980
Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world
The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire
And the babies cease alarm as mothers
and heart high as the stars so far unseen
nevertheless hurl into the universe
a moving force
irreversible as light years
traveling to the open eye
And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
even under the sea:
we are the ones we have been waiting for.