Last week Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother, product of a broken home, college over-achiever and politician reared in Chicago’s tough streets, became the presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

For those who have weathered the years when Blacks were discouraged to voteûby law, by gun or by the lynch mobûthe ascendance of Obama brings a sense of awe and accomplishment. We join in his victory, because it is our victory. We have been able to transform this nation from one where a Black man was considered only threefifths of a human being, to becoming one where a Black man is considered for the highest position in the land.

So while we congratulate Obama for his tremendous victory, against seemingly insurmountable odds and a formidable opponent, we can congratulate ourselves for recognizing the power of the vote, the power of persistence and the sheer audacity of hope. We recognize the tough job ahead. The Democratic Party, fractured by a prolonged and bitter primary fight, must be united.

The backers of candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton must be brought back into the fold, and made to recognize that their energy and expertise will be necessary to carry their party’s nominee to victory in November. Obama must steel himself for the onslaught of Republican operatives who will make the primary attacks seem like a leisurely stroll through Grant Park. They will come after him, with all guns blazing, all swift boats revving.

Republicans will be fighting for their very existence, trying to avoid the kind of landslide that can be nation-changing. As Obama has reminded us, this election is about change. It is about avoiding the insanity of electing the same people, every four years, yet expecting a different outcome. It is about reversing the kinds of policies, and the mindset behind those policies, that puts profits above people, puts revenue above rights, and puts ideological litmus tests above love of country.

The past eight years have been fraught with disappointmentûfrom the 4,000 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, to the foreclosure debacle, to an economy in recession.

The candidates for president must be judged on how they plan to remedy those maladies, not on what their pastor says, or who their friends are, or their race or age or gender. But this victory by Barack Obama, now a son of Chicago, puts him on the precipice of the most improbable political and social victory in the nation’s history. His achievement is unrivaled, and for now, for just a little while, he should bask in the glow of his victory.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  

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