Editor’s Note: The Morning After


| January-February 2009


Ask anyone who’s been in the struggle for the long haul. You have to have deep faith. 
Faith is our primary source of empowerment. . . . This is not a sprint. This is a marathon.

—Cornel West, Hope on a Tightrope (SmileyBooks, 2008)

 

On election night, once Ohio faded to blue, I set my DVR to record Barack Obama’s victory celebration in Chicago. I haven’t replayed it yet, but I plan to keep it queued up indefinitely. Not because I anticipate the need to hear the president-elect’s acceptance speech again. That oratory was best appreciated in real time, and I trust Obama will treat us to a fair share of memorable rhetoric over the next four years. I’m holding on to the footage for the crowd shots.



For a few precious hours, citizens across the country flooded the streets and collectively exorcised eight years of cynicism. In Grant Park, that passion was so concentrated that the sounds and images instantly became iconic, like the riots in that same park during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, or the civil rights movement’s march on Washington five years before that.

Once our first black president’s revolutionary surge gives way to pragmatism, once change is inevitably modified by incremental and a momentarily discombobulated opposition retrenches for attack, I’m going to need an audiovisual reminder of that glorious night, those irrepressible tears, that joyful noise. I’m going to push play and take a hit.