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Obama – A victory for our youth!

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We were all glued to our TV screens, as we followed for the entire day the US Presidential elections. The interest was fascinating. At a PTA meeting earlier that afternoon, at the North Union Secondary School, where we met to discuss how we were going to reform many of the critical elements in the school’s system so that our students could benefit more, I engaged a few parents on the US elections, and the enthusiasm was overwhelming.{{more}} The parents were following keenly the gospel of positive change preached in the US politics, as we were working to bring about a change for the better in a rural secondary school with great potential.

As a student of History, it was difficult to hold back the tears when I heard the final news at 11 pm on the East Coast of America on Tuesday night, and the news was that Obama had fulfilled a dream that many thought was impossible. It is a victory of many firsts. It is no small achievement. It is an achievement that will never be forgotten. A victory for Obama means many things to many different persons, but particularly to African Americans and descendants of Africans. It strikes responsively to the fact that the sons and daughters who were subjected to one of the greatest forms of injustice during the period of slavery in the new world, could still rise above all odds and make it to the top. This makes Obama a symbol of hope to all, to every village, society, region or race, be it black or white, mixed or unmixed, Indian, Portuguese or Chinese who struggle to achieve greatness. It is a victory for everyone! Obama has successfully reached across all racial lines.

As is the case with many others, I have followed the progressive politics of Obama for the past five years or more. I can recall telling a close friend of mine whilst sitting in her living room in New York one winter, long before Obama was close to the Presidential seat, that there is something about this man that speaks to greatness. Through him we have lived to see a fulfillment of a dream which speaks to the attainment of equality regardless of our class, creed or race.

When one analyses the struggle for equality in the United States of America, it is impossible to escape the names of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rev. Jesse Jackson. Dr. King’s most renowned, “I have a dream” speech has greater currency now, more than ever before for Black Americans. King was correct when he sounded in a vehement refusal that: “We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this cheque, a cheque that will give us upon demand, the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

Whilst our circumstances St. Vincent and the Grenadines today are of a different kind than what existed in the US in the 1960’s, the challenges which have evolved are in some cases deeper and more defined in our instance, though of a different type. Today, far too many of our nation’s youth are still drowning in the shadows of a colonial past. The need to foster a work ethic that will build self, nation and region with a vision to reposition our society to succeed is absent in many quarters. Many of our young men and women are still disillusioned on critical issues which will lead to their success. Our policy makers are doing an excellent job as it relates to setting a platform for our youth to rise to the top, but we must take the opportunity serious.

The prophesy outlined in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech, delivered in support of the striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN, on April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated, has been realized. Dr. King’s closing words were: “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Well if getting to the promised land was explained in reference to the attainment of an equal opportunity to achieve at all levels regardless of race, then Obama has proven that resilience has brought a fulfillment of Dr. King’s great dream.

The greatest of dreams can be realized among our youth in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but we must first not limit ourselves to half hearted approaches as we work harder to realize the sole intent of lifting our nation.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.

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