|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - November 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Obama win fulfills dream of Civil Rights leaders
Polk County Enterprise - November 2008
LIVINGSTON – The historic impact of Tuesday’s election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States is major leap forward in a centuries old struggle for equality. As much as pundits, analysts and voters claim race is not a factor, Obama carries on his shoulders the hopes and dreams of millions of black Americans. He has become the standard bearer for a new generation, taking the mantle of Martin Luther King, Jr. and seeing King’s dream become reality. This date will stand with other landmark moments like September 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, December 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratifi ed abolishing slavery, or February 1870 when the Fifteenth Amendment granted blacks the right to vote, or the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. People of color in America have had a long bitter fi ght for acceptance and equality. The valiant grace of Rosa Parks and the electrifying charisma of Martin Luther King Jr. symbolized a sea change in American attitudes and paved the way for men and women like Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and Barack Obama to reach their previously unattainable heights. Obama is much more than the color of his skin, though. He has drawn the support of Americans young and old, black and white, poor and rich with a message of hope and a vision for unity, prosperity and healing for a nation divided by two wars, a sagging economy and an environment in peril. As many Americans celebrate this moment in history, we asked members of the community to refl ect on the signifi cance of the 2008 election and Barack Obama’s selection as the 44th President of the United States. “This is a milestone for America,” said Polk County Sheriff’s Offi ce Chief Deputy Byron Lyons. Lyons said Obama’s election is not just a victory for black people but for democracy and equality as well. “We teach democracy, fairness always looked to us and now we really are there. So many people assumed that because I am black that I was ‘for’ Obama, but him being a black man had nothing to do with it. I looked at his vision for America,” said Lyons. “After the last eight years I wanted someone who could take us in a different direction and I believe Obama will do that.” Lyons believes Obama looked beyond himself and the black race and looked at what he could do for the human race. “Just like Martin Luther King, Jr., he had a dream and I wanted to know what his dream was.” Lyons said. “Because of the doors that have been opened to me through the years, in my career as the first black police officer at the Livingston Police Department, I knew that God has opened those doors and that he would open doors for others. It does show that this nation is moving past color and more toward a man’s abilities and his heart,” said Lyons. Bertha Baldwin is a life-long resident of Polk County and has worked in education for decades. “I’m just proud. Not just for him being elected president but for hope,” she said. “So many of our children in the schools have this little crutch, saying ‘I didn’t have two parents and such,’ but this lets them know that if you work hard you have the same opportunities. Obama had disadvantages but found a way, with hard work and perseverance to make his dream real.” Baldwin said she is proud to be a black lady today. “This is for me. We’ve come a long way. And I thank God for it and I think President Obama is going to do a good job,” she said. “I used to tell the youngsters if you want something bad enough you can do it and, you know, I tried to believe it myself, and now I see that those things I put in their hearts can come true.” Pam Walker, Chief Attorney with the Polk County District Attorney’s office said she feels that it is a wonderful and amazing thing that an African-American has not only been afforded the opportunity to seek the office of the President of the United States, but now is the President-Elect of the United States. “This is truly a historic and tremendous accomplishment that is reflective of the progress that has been made. It is exciting to see that President-Elect Barack Obama has made the dream of older generations of African Americans come true, and for the younger generations a new height to aspire to,” said Walker. Kathy Anderson said she is just happy and thanks God because we were looking for change for the better. “It’s not about race. It’s about getting the job done,” said Anderson. “This is the man that I really believe will help the poor people. It’s a monumental change – and just to see Martin Luther King’s dreams come true – it’s a wonderful thing to see it. I feel like God had this in His plan.” To Polk County Assistant District Attorney Beverly Armstrong, Obama’s election means so much on so many levels. “It’s hard to put it into words. As a mother of young children, it’s a means to motivate them, to build their confidence and to assure them that all things are possible. As a professional, it is inspiring. It raises the bar and sets a new level of professionalism. As an African American, it is simply phenomenal!” For the older generation it signifies how far we have come and for the younger generation it signifies how far we can go, said Armstrong. The possibilities are endless. “This is an exciting time not just for African Americans but for all Americans.” Regardless of one’s political persuasion, there is no denying the historical significance of Obama’s election. On so many levels this presidency represents change. Time alone will tell how that change will be recorded in the history books of future generations.