By Everett Levison
My Black people, please wake up. King dared to dream this day. Now we no longer have to dream. A moment unlike any other in history is upon us. Barack Obama is within arm's reach of the Democratic nomination. What now lies within our grasp was reached by the cumulative effort and lives of every Black soul since the first of our ancestors journeyed here from Africa. From the sickness and death of a slave galley came the seed of hope that has sprung to life in this presidential primary election. My Black people, please wake up. King dared to dream this day. Now we no longer have to dream. A moment unlike any other in history is upon us. Barack Obama is within arm's reach of the Democratic nomination. What now lies within our grasp was reached by the cumulative effort and lives of every Black soul since the first of our ancestors journeyed here from Africa. From the sickness and death of a slave galley came the seed of hope that has sprung to life in this presidential primary election.
The time is now. If we don't come together and seize it, we will have only ourselves to blame. I for one will have no pity on those who doom themselves to shame and sleepless nights, haunted by the spirits who died believing that their lives had brought us one step closer to this opportunity. Now that we stand on destiny's doorstep, it is our responsibility to unite and push open the doors which for so long have remained closed: the Democratic nomination and the presidency of the United States. Dr. King celebrations and Black history calendars are all very nice, but the truest tribute will come when Black Americans unite in the polling booth to finally pay the long outstanding debt owed to our fallen leaders.
There are those among us who would have you believe that the greatness of this election lies in the mere fact that Barack Obama has done well enough to make it this far. Those same people are trying to convince us that someone who has never suffered at the hands of injustice, persecution and racial discrimination is better qualified to represent us. I ask them: can anyone honestly believe that the lives of countless African Americans were sacrificed to give Hillary Rodham Clinton a better chance than Barack Obama to become President of the United States?
I can only cry when I hear my poor misguided brothers refer to Bill Clinton as "the first Black president," and make statements like, "Hillary Clinton has Bill behind her . . . Bill is every bit as Black as Barack." Will someone please tell me which of Bill or Hillary's people were ever hanged, shot or dragged behind a pickup until dead because they were Black?
I wish the belief that an African American doesn't stand a chance were the only reason that some in our community jumped the gun and pledged their support to the Clinton campaign before weighing what was really at stake. But unfortunately, it is not. There are those too in our ranks who seek to sell this – our blood-soaked, hard fought moment in time – in order to reap personal gain and selfish profit. Shame on them. The only deals to be cut in this election are those that bring the leadership of our community together. If Barack Obama doesn't stand a chance, it's only because of those among us who don't have the courage to stand together and give him one.
I hear some of my brothers and sisters saying that he's not ready. Yet in the 232 years of this country's history, who has been more ready?
Some say that he lacks the experience necessary to run this country. Well, when a proud son of America rises from among us – an intelligent man with far reaching vision, uncompromising integrity and unwavering courage; a common man with an uncommon mission to finally set right the wrongs of this country – I say fear not for any lack of experience. When the time comes, men and women possessing great experience will appear from all across this vast country, drawn to such a man like iron to a magnet. It is not experience that our country lacks, but leadership with vision, convictions with strength and a future with hope. And when this man happens to be a Black man from the south side of Chicago who looks at his life and the lives of all common people in this country and dares to say, "Yes we can," I will stand proud and support such a