The election of Barack Obama has overshadowed all that has gone on before in Black History. His election in so many ways is what Black America has been waiting for. It is a sign of victory from the past struggles for equality and in a sense justice and freedom. Black History of the past has always been an annual celebration and reminder of the accomplishments achievements and contributions of Blacks to America and the world. What is important is that the election of Obama is just a chapter and that greater things are yet to come. His election is a great chapter in the Book of Black History but it does not and must not mark the end of the book.
African Americans have always had a way of saying that we were kings and queens in Africa before we were brought here in chains. Very few of us know who the kings and queens were and so we generalized about it while quoting chapter and verse about who the inventors and innovators were. Now with President Obama we can add a new chapter to Black History IQ. We can now ask, "Who was the first African American Attorney General, the first African American First Lady, and the first African President of the United States." The Obama factor has another element also. We can ask students where did President Obama go to school, where was his father's home land, what state was he born in, and what was the date of his election? The Black History book is by no means finished and like American and African History and many other holidays, it is a living thing that continues to grow and change. It is a thing that we can all be a part of.
When Michelle Obama recently welcomed a group of African American students to the White House to celebrate Black History Month 2009, our beautiful First Lady reminded them that Barack Obama was the first Black president. She then told them it was up to them to prepare to write the next chapter. What will it be? One thing is for certain, Black History will never be the same because hope has been infused into it by the breaking of what was seemingly the last glass ceiling in America. Like Mandela walking out of prison in 1990, Obama's election and inauguration as President seemed to set Africans the world over free.
Journalist extraordinaire Gwen Ifill in her new book, "Break-Through" chronicles the history of politics and race in the age of Obama. Other writers will write of the economic changes in Black America in the age of Obama, and others about a renaissance in the entertainment industry that gets us away from being identified with the gangsterism and thuggism of the Hip Hop movement.
Someone will write an answer to the age old question of where do we go from here? The answer must be UP. Up, if we prepare. Up, if we don't allow ourselves to fall back into the role of victim. Up if we take the future as a motivator for progress. Up, if we assume the role of Victor and Victorious. Up!