Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Extraordinary Day

Much will be written about the historic inauguration that we witnessed yesterday. I had the good fortune of spending time in several places with many friends and members of the Detroit community in which I live.

For most of the day, I was at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. ( The Cass Tech Marching Band, an awesome choir from Inkster and a packed Theatre created amazing energy in the building. As members of the community streamed in to the Theatre to watch the inauguration, I was particularly moved by the reaction of the elders, many of whom had fought and struggled during the Civil Rights movement and had personally experienced racism. I spoke with a gentleman who was a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen who had tears streaming down his face as he spoke about how he felt watching our new President take the oath of office. It was a day that he did not expect to see in his lifetime. It was also exciting to see the faces of young children and hear them speak the name of our new President; the name Barack Obama rolling off their tongues as if he was a beloved family member.

Mid-morning, I went to my sons' school, University Prep Academy, to watch the swearing in ceremony with my 8 year old son. We had just spent the MLK holiday at a breakfast event the day before. The program included a short play performed by students from Detroit Public Schools' Spain Middle School. It was a dialogue between Martin Luther King and the Obama family. The keynote speaker was Rev. Byron Moore from Ebenezer AME Church in Detroit. He was awesome-- drawing biblical references to current events. My favorite message from his speech... The Joshua generation needs to sit at the feet of the Moses generation (listen to our elders), but the Moses generation cannot lead the Joshua generation (we need to step up.)

The school was decorated in red, white and blue. The student's were allowed to wear Obama shirts, etc. over their uniforms for the day. As the students gathered in the gym, it was clear that they knew this day was important. I am talking about kindergarten through fifth graders here. When the ceremony began, the children were silent. Everytime the crowd in Washington cheered, they cheered. I overheard a couple of little girls talking about what it would be like to be Sasha or Miela. One of the boys interjected, " I am going to President someday." How awesome that these African American children will grow up really believing that anything is possible.

Sometimes, as parents, we aren't sure if the messages and lessons that we are trying to teach are getting through to our children. On our way home from school, my older son was picking at his younger brother about sucking his thumb and dragging around his blanket (He's 3) I told him to "stop being so critical of your brother. Nobody's perfect, including you." My older son then responded, " Yes there is. God is perfect. Jesus was perfect, wasn't he?" I told him that, Yes, God is perfect and that Jesus was the most perfect human being to walk the earth" He then said, "And Martin Luther King was perfect." I told him, " Martin Luther King was a great man, but he wasn't perfect either" He then said, "Yeah, but he tried to make it perfect." We talked about how MLK did what he knew was right and that he lost his life trying to make things better for everyone." My son then said. "Just like Jesus did." (Yahoo!!)

We capped off our day at a potluck hosted by the Garden Resource Program at Focus: HOPE. If you live in the city and love to garden, you MUST join the Garden Resource Program. It is a partnership of the Greening of Detroit, Earthworks Garden, Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Michigan State Universtiy Extension. I have been gardening for 6 years and this group, with its terrific, generous people and lots of resources have helped me grow a substantial amount of food to feed my family. (if you want to learn more, go to )

There really is a new sense of optimism in the air. I don't believe that this is a "pollyanna" view. Most of us recognize that things are not going to change over night and that it will take all of us to work and sacrifice to create a better city, nation and world.

Let's get busy!!

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