"I am very humbled by the fact that I stand on the shoulders of all of the people that made all these incredible contributions to lift this country up," President Barack Obama said, during an interview. "I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other county on Earth is my story even possible," he concluded. His ascension to become the 44th President of the United States is a remarkable achievement, one that cannot be measured in mere words, but must be looked at through the prism of all the men and women who sacrificed so that he might stand tall.
Though Obama was born in 1961, the journey that brought him to the pinnacle of power began decades, indeed centuries, ago through the struggles of men and women yearning to be free and crying out for freedom. The close proximity of the activities of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to his nomination and inauguration is a testament of providence. The search for the dignity of men and women in bondage yielded tremendous struggles and seemingly unanswered cries that continued unabated up to the present.
It must be understood that President Obama is not the destination; he is a part of the journey. Harken to the voices of millions of people on the National Mall, stretching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and beyond, and that will partially explain why Obama has come so far in such a short time. He came out of a people in an uncharacteristic way at a time when the country needed guidance and direction: millions are out of work and without healthcare; houses are being foreclosed on; the homeless population is increasing by leaps-and-bounds; the economy is in shambles; soldiers are fighting two wars overseas; and the climate is undergoing seismic changes.
Where must Obama start to safely redirect the ship of state and how long will the people exercise the patience he so desperately needs? Many have compared the country he has inherited to the Great Depression Era. Recalling the 1930s through the end of the 20th century, the progress made can only be reviewed in relative terms. Though he is the president of all the people in America, Obama is still its first Black president, and that moniker has evoked many different emotions.
When Thurgood Marshall led the legal argument before the United States Supreme Court that resulted in a landmark decision that reverberates today, it was not only to rectify the decision of two previous cases (Dred Scott and Plessy) that had institutionalized racism and discrimination, it was to create the foundational threshold over which President Obama would enter the White House.
The same can be said for incidents involving Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Dr. King, the Little Rock Nine, the March on Washington, Congressman John Lewis, academy award winner Sidney Poitier, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Muhammad Ali, Associate Justice Marshall, Senator Edward Brooke, Gov. Douglas Wilder, Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Million Man March, General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Governor Deval Patrick. These were some of the individuals and occasions that were the catalyst laying the groundwork for Barack Obama to become the 44th President of the United States.