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Obama’s win makes dream a reality for blacks

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by Roland S. Martin
Capital Times

For years, black quarterbacks could run and pass with the best of them.

Yet when it came to Division I-A colleges — called “the big white schools” by African-Americans — they were ignored, having to showcase their skills at black colleges. If they were recruited, coaches would move them to the wide receiver or safety positions, and the implication was often that they didn’t have the smarts to run the teams.

It really wasn’t until the 1990s that it was the norm in college, rather than the exception, to see black quarterbacks regularly under center.

Today we can turn on the TV and see the likes of Vince Young, Donovan McNabb, Byron Leftwich, Daunte Culpepper, David Garrard and so many others doing what they do best in the NFL on Sundays.

See, when one makes it through the door, what was the exception eventually can become the norm.

Jackie Robinson proved that as well with Major League Baseball in 1947.

The parents of those college quarterbacks, Robinson and others often would tell their children that if they studied hard, worked hard and kept their noses clean, they could be anything they wanted to be.

Even president of the United States.

Black children for years would hear that, write essays in school saying how they want to be president, and live that dream.

Oh, how painful it must have been for their parents to say those words knowing full well in the back of their minds that it likely wasn’t going to happen.

But that all changed Tuesday night.

When Sen. Barack Obama stepped on that stage at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., that dream deferred for so many became a living reality, and tears were flowing all across the nation.

Bishop T.D. Jakes, not one prone to spend a lot of time commenting on political issues, wrote in a CNN.com column that he got “goose bumps” by seeing Obama claim the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

Oprah Winfrey, who caught a lot of heat during the primary for backing Obama, said, “I’m euphoric. I’ve been doing the happy dance all day. I’m so proud of Barack and Michelle and what this means for all of us the new possibilities for our country. And if he wants me to, I’m ready to go door to door.”

Sen. Barack Obama’s clinching of the Democratic presidential primary, winning states east and west, north and south, clearly means that African-American parents today truly can look their children in the eye and not hope their words of “yes, you can” will ring true one day, but know for certain that that barrier has been broken.

Sure, winning the primary is far different from winning the general election, but being one of the final two standing is an incredible achievement.

There will be many people who say, “Please, don’t focus on his race. That’s not how he won.”

And they are 100 percent correct, despite Geraldine Ferraro’s many ridiculous attempts to suggest he is where he is because he’s African-American.

But we can’t ignore the reality that a major barrier was broken June 3, 2008, and what a joy it was to see history made.

Had Sen. Hillary Clinton won, we would be speaking of the same historical significance and reveling in how far we have come as a nation.

What also is gratifying to those who support Obama is that no one — except for Ferraro, some hateful Clinton supporters and those on the political right — can put an asterisk by his name or even try to suggest that affirmative action was the cause.

He began the campaign in the same position as Sens. Clinton, Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden, Gov. Bill Richardson, John Edwards and the others. The game says you must raise the money, build your team, travel to every state in the nation, and convince the voters that you’re the best choice.

Nothing was handed to him. He didn’t get to cut corners. The rules were simple: The first one to 2,026 wins. (Of course, that was changed to 2,118.)

And that’s exactly what he did.

Obama has assured his place in history. But for the 46-year-old junior senator from Illinois, I’m sure the only history he’s thinking about now is being called the 44th president of the United States.

Roland S. Martin is a CNN contributor and a talk show host for WVON/AM in Chicago.

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Written by Symphony

June 8, 2008 at 8:48 am

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