Posts Tagged ‘langston hughes’

The Genius of America

us-presidents

I can’t stop staring at this photo gallery of the US Presidents. There is something about seeing Obama’s face juxtaposed with these other figures, all white, all men. Some of these faces are so iconic – Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln – we meet them every day on our currency, our government seals and documents, our history books. What does it mean to see Obama here? And know that he is now forever a part of our collective American story? What I see is a new confidence in the ideals of this country, a cautious optimisim that goes deeper than the unconvincing platitudes with which we once soothed ourselves or the unrealized anthems we once repeated without thought.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

President-Elect Barack Obama

Quite a few blogs and viral emails are circulating with quotes from Langston Hughes in honor of Obama’s tremendous victory. Hughes’s soaring poetics are a fitting way to commemorate the moment, but I think of James Baldwin, who was also quite eloquent in his fierce criticism and love for our nation.

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