I OWE IT TO MY FATHER!
Throughout this unprecedented Presidential election cycle, many Christian Americans of African decent have been challenged with the process of justifying their decision with regard to whether or not they support Senator Barack Obama for President. After engaging in this valid and vigorous discourse, I began to ask myself why I had decided to vote for Barack Obama.
For some strange reason the scripture came to my mind "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only TOGETHER WITH US they would be made perfect." (Heb. 11:39-40 NIV) At that moment my mind went to my father who died in 1994. It was if the enormity of this moment in history began to overwhelm me in a way I have never experienced, least of all expected.
Let me be clear, I don't claim to adhere to a Black Theology. I identify myself as a Christian who happens to be Black. Yet, I can't get away from this sense that my decision to vote for Barack Obama is about more than just me... "I Owe It To My Father"!
I was four years old when Dr. King gave his speech in Washington in 1963. My father was there. I often wonder what it was that Dr. King saw. What did he envision? Could he really see this day when there would be the very real possibility that a Black man could be the President of the United States of America! I wonder what my father saw. Why was he so driven? What made a poor farmer from Danville, Va. move to Baltimore at age 18, with little education and no money, drive himself to own a business by age 19 and never work for another person this rest of his life. What pushed him? Was it the fact that from the age of 5 he had to work the farm of someone else for as little as fifty cent a day? What did he see?
This same man, Bishop Willard E. Saunders, Sr., went back to school and graduated, owned a barbershop, became a property owner, became one of the first black charter bus owners in the city of Baltimore, built two churches while all the time telling me that "There's no such thing as can't". Why did he push me? Why did he push my sisters? Why did he push so hard? The one thing that made this proud Black man mad as ....... was for someone to tell him what he couldn't do.
I remember when he went to buy his first Mercedes Benz. He went to local dealer in Baltimore that was known not to be friendly to Blacks. He was ignored at first, then told that he couldn't buy the car. His response was to go to another dealer, buy the car, and come back to the original dealer to say "Don't tell me what I can't do". What he was saying then and he is still saying now is "There's no such thing as Can't"! That's what this election represents... "The ability to". It validates the words of my FatherMany don't understand why we would vote for Senator Obama because he's black.
They contend that if we really adhered to the principals of Martin Luther King, that we would judge this man solely "on the content of his character and not the color of his skin". They call it racist. I call it hope! I never believed I would see this day. But, it's here, and we are all living it. I know that I may be taking some liberty with the scripture, but I really believe that when I cast my vote for Senator Obama, I'm doing it for and with my father! When I cast my vote, it won't just be me, but all those who died waiting for this moment.
I owe it to my grandfathers George Saunders and Clinton Jones. It’s for my grandmothers, my uncles, my cousins and even those I didn't even know. "They all died in the faith, not having received the promise, but seeing it afar off". There are some things that God has promised to those who went before us that can only be realized together with us. I believe that this is one of those moments! I don't believe that even Senator Obama recognizes the great weight of hope that he is carrying.
For those of us who have lived through the challenges that being Black in America bring to us, see hope. I'm not crazy. I don't expect an instant change in the status quo. Quite the contrary, I expect things to become more difficult and the undercurrent of racism that has carried this great nation for decades to rise to the surface. Let's just hope that the levies don't break! At the end of the day, we must pray for the Lord's will to be done and for the safety of Barack Obama and his family.
I don't know if he'll win. Only God knows. I do know that win or lose I have the opportunity to do something my father could never do. So this vote...I Owe It To My Father!
Bishop Willard Saunders, Jr., Pastor
Created For So Much More Worship Center Baltimore, Md.
Bishop Saunders, guess what He Won!