My Father, My Son, and Barack Obama


My son is 10 years old and the 2008 election is the first presidential campaign that he will remember.

When I was the age that my son is now, my father participated in the civil rights movement.

I remember the freedom rides, the sit-ins and the demonstrations.

I remember the fire hoses turned on the demonstrators, the politicians blocking schoolhouse doors, the angry faces of the white mob.

I remember the dignity of the demonstrators and the murders of civil rights workers.

I can still sing the songs of the movement.

And I remember having a very clear idea of which side my family was on in the struggle against racism.

One of the reasons I am involved in Barack Obama’s campaign is to create these memories and this clear sense of where our family stands for my son.

In the past year, he has been to rallies and fundraisers, and accompanied his mother and me to phone banks and on precinct walks.

He knows where we stand.

I can’t imagine what social changes will take place in his lifetime, what political struggles will capture his imagination, or even what positions he will take on the great issues of the 21st century.

But whatever political action he eventually takes in his life, it will start have started here.

I don’t know whether he will thank me for involving him in Barack Obama’s campaign.

But I thank my dad.


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