BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
Oh, what a beautiful day! What an inspirational day!
An unbelievable two million people with shining faces and teary eyes gathered for a history altering occasion. They experienced the charisma and the eloquence of a new leader holding sway over the minds and hearts of a diverse body of believers in a new and different American way.
In the words of the poet:
“About the people cast an enchanting spell,
With volition of vision, kinetic to impel…..
The vision must capture the American dream,
And in the teary eyes of its people gleam.”
Long an admirer of skills in erudition of written or spoken words, this observer has been thrilled repeatedly by both the wordsmith techniques and the skills of elocution of the new president. Along with millions, he has been enthralled, touched, and inspired.
To this observer, race was never a primary part in his personal responses to this winning candidate, although at times responses may have been somewhat enhanced by that consideration. Black or white, Barack Obama was by far the most challenging, inspirational, thoughtful, and poised of our aspiring leaders. He deserved his election on personal merit alone.
But to those with African-American ancestry, this victory was doubly meaningful. We have observed the gleaming faces and teary eyes of his black compatriots. To them, the meaning of all this is much more than we whites will ever fathom.
This writer wonders now about what the feelings of his deceased friend, Walter Mason, might have been today. Walt was a master’s degree student under our tutelage at Oklahoma State University during the 1961-62 academic year NDEA counseling institute. Said to be the only black teacher surviving the integration of the Perry schools fewer than five years earlier, Walter went on from us to become counseling director at Langston University and then Affirmative Action Coordinator at the University of Oklahoma.
Walter Mason was a great human being. The only black student among 30 master’s degree candidates, Walter’s race quickly became irrelevant to all of us – students and faculty. But in arranging field trips, meals, and overnight stays, race was still relevant in the outside world. I checked every stop and every hotel in advance, and we passed on any that gave any hint blacks were not welcome.
If he were alive today witnessing these inaugural events, I suspect Walt would have tears running down his cheeks, experiencing an emotion none of us can imagine. If I were standing by his side, I would likely have shared in his emotions.
How strange it is that this beacon symbolizing change for the black people of our nation, and those of the world at large, is also the beacon light of hope for all of us in this country and for the rest of the world as well.
It is a new day! It is a wonderful new day!
Although our exultation of today is restrained by the mountainous problems which confront us domestically and internationally, the joy of our hope thrives and prospers.
On this great day this old curmudgeon was inspired to unfurl Old Glory to fly again freely in the breezes of change passing rapidly by his viewing stand. Something which had been lost has now been found. Something repressed is now free again.
Freedom is a wonderful thing!
– The author, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer