(Last Monday, I received a special piece of mail. A gold embossed commemorative invitation from “The Presidential Inaugural Committee,” to attend the January 21, 2013 Inauguration. What better way to show appreciation to the Obama campaign volunteers and donors. For me, this was the Grande Obama Collectible. I must confess, my collection of Obama memorabilia probably meets the definition of “collectible hoarding.” But this invitation, outweighs everything else. Why? Because, it is about so much more than an invite to the swearing-in of President Obama for a second term. I was so excited! Then, I shared the good news with my two grandsons’ 13-year-old CJE and 17-year-old GPK. The reaction, “What’s the big deal? It’s only a commemorative invitation. It’s not like you were really asked to be there.” Their indifferent attitude, led me to write then this letter.)
Dear GPK and CJE:
You are right. I will watch the Presidential Inauguration on television like millions of others. I will not sit with those who received the “real invite.” But, it doesn’t matter. This Presidential Inauguration is a “Big Deal.”
In our efforts to shield you, we may have failed to inform you. As famed author, James Baldwin, stated, “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations where you can go.”
Let’s begin. Prior to passage of the 13th Amendment, Black people were:
• viewed as property – bought and sold like livestock,
• prohibited from marrying, and
• forbidden to learn how to read and write.
So, on this Presidential Inauguration Day, I will say, “Thank You” to President Lincoln for the role he played, so many years ago, in starting the journey from slavery to the White House.
A second Bible, once owned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was selected by President Obama for this swearing-in ceremony. Also, what an honor to Dr. King for the Presidential Inauguration to take place on the 30th Anniversary Holiday to celebrate his life and legacy?
Another great civil rights leader will be honored at this Presidential Inauguration. The Invocation will be delivered by Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of the civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, assassinated fifty years ago outside of his home. A civil rights activist and journalist, Ms. Evers-Williams, fought tirelessly for over 30 years to bring her husband’s killer to justice.
As I watch the Presidential Inauguration on television, I will take a moment to “honor” Dr. King, and Mr. Evers, two prominent leaders, whose lives were cut short due to their non-violent protest to end segregation. I will say a prayer for the many other leaders and civil rights workers, from all walks of life coming together, to risk and sometimes lose their lives fighting for justice and equality. Also, I will “honor” Ms. Evers-Williams for her many years of advocacy for equal rights and fair treatment. While the Civil Rights Movement was not able to make up for past injustices, it is now possible for many more people to aspire for the American Dream:
“. . . rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which claims that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (Kamp, Rethinking the American Dream, April 2009)
This Presidential Inauguration and my commemorative, gold embossed invitation is a “Big Deal.” The road from slavery to the White House has been a “long and treacherous journey.”
It is a “Big Deal,” GPK and CJE, for me to know one day, if you make the choice, it is possible for you to become President of the United States.