Ariel Goldberg
Ariel Goldberg

A black man wins the White House

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
– Martin Luther King, 1963

The election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States is indeed a momentous occasion in that country’s history and is a sign for the rest of the world that our loftiest and most exalted dreams can come true.

The words above were spoken by Martin Luther King at a time when racism not only existed in the southern states of America, but was formally acknowledged and written into law. Black and white people could not study at the same universities. They could not eat at the same restaurants or sit in the same bus seats. King’s dream of a nation where his four children “will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” seemed to be all but impossible.

Forty five years later, a hundred and twenty five thousand people have gathered at Grant Park, Chicago to hear Barack Obama speak.

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there”

His very election is a testament to his own words. From the outset of his campaign Obama has maintained a message of hope and striving for something better. A belief that our greatest dreams are possible. His message has evidently touched the hearts of millions of Americans and moved the soul of that nation. And the hope and change of the American people will begin to spread across the world because, at this very symbolic and significant moment in history, they stand as an example of the power and possibility of change.

Great changes in the world are not made overnight. They are etched out in the fabric of history through a slow and gruelling process, and it is often only possible to appreciate the magnitude and significance of those changes many years down the line when we stop and look back at where we came from.

Forty five years ago black people in America were fighting to be able to eat at the same restaurants as white people. Today, the electorate of America showed that they judged Barack Obama on the content of his character and not on the colour of his skin. Today Martin Luther King’s dream came true.

America is moving forward as a nation and it is a reminder to us all that change is not only possible, but constantly happening. I think his acceptance speech captures the perpetual experience of humanity. The road is long and the climb is always steep … but we are always moving forward and rising to new heights.

I, as a person with nothing to do with America, experience Obama’s hope as a hope for all of humankind and reflect on the change that has happened in America as a change that has happened across the whole world. Quietly moving in the background, often seemingly stunted and hidden … but always there.