When Chief Justice John Roberts swears in President-elect Barack Hussein Obama on the morning of January 20, 2008 as the leader of the free world, for all those African-American congressmen and women who marched in furor and with determination to the lectern on January 6, 2001 in firm protest of the certification of Florida presidential election results during a joint session of Congress–this 2008 result would for sure be an apologetic sun that breaks through a base cloud clog-full of rotten smoke to dry the rain on their storm-beaten faces.
It is worthy to note that on that Saturday, the cries of those brave men and women tumbled onto the hard floor of the hollow House chamber simply because no Senator in the all-white Senate cared to sign any of their requests—Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., who shares the same state (Illinois) with President-elect Barack Obama definitely would recall vivid images of that day.
So it has to be a sweet form of poetic justice that four years after this denial would come a lone Black Senator into the all-white Senate club; and cap it with his ascension into the White House, giving the club back to the all-white Senate that refused to sign any petition eight years earlier.
If anyone before this epic election assumed the silliness and shenanigans of the 2000 Presidential election in the state of Florida that brought George Bush Jr. to power were lost on Black America, then such a person never really cared for the opinion of the community in the first place.
On the morning of Nov. 4, 2008 that saw this achievement, a distinguished Black minister reiterated on national television his belief that the 2000 election was a stolen one. And he’s not alone, back in 2001, Rep. Barbara Lee’s, D-Calif., statement over shouts from Republicans, that “it was the Supreme Court and not the people of the United States who decided this election” still readily echo strongly among the African-Americans I talked to in the immediate environment of this history-making election.
Mr. Bush’s presidency has validated all the fears and nightmares harbored by a vast majority of African-Americans when they resented the possibility of a Bush presidency, especially in Florida where the African-American vote (those that were lucky to be counted) broke aggressively for then Vice-President Gore by a 9-1 margin.
Events such as those in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where an obscene number of African-Americans laid lifeless and strewn across highway roads and in city neighborhoods; and lived in conditions in the Superdome so revolting and nasty that Bush’s own dog dared not have a taste of such—buried and cemented Bush’s legacy with the African-American community.
To further bring to perceptible terms the significance of the outrage in the Black community back then, and the sharp contrast to the giddiness and exuberance in the community today, you’d have to understand what an immense blow and a sense of loss the mass disenfranchisement in Florida meant.
W. E. B. Dubois in his Harpers Ferry’s speech in 1906 stated with vigor that with the right to vote goes everything. In voting for Vice-President Al Gore, African-Americans were not necessarily voting for the person—but for the “policies”. I seriously doubt if there was any personal affinity toward Albert Gore as a person. Al Gore as a candidate … was a pretty lousy one.
And when I mention “policies,” I invoke the endearment of the African-American community toward the Clinton administration. To this extent, renowned author Toni Morrison went ahead and referred to Bill Clinton as the first Black President, not quite sure when and if there would ever be a legit African-American in the Oval Office in any lifetime soon to come.
So voting or attempting to vote for a continuation of favorable “policies” and have it boldly and blatantly hijacked by the Supreme Court and Republican operatives sure underscored the deep sense of grief and anger expressed by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, then president of the Congressional Black Caucus, when she unequivocally told George W. Bush to be “on notice that without justice there will be no peace.”
In a particular case in Florida, the Secretary of State’s office in an email to Database Technologies (DBT), a firm it hired to help create a purge list, instructed it to “capture more names that aren’t matches” of people ineligible to vote. The NAACP sued the Secretary’s Office in NAACP v. Harris in regard to this; the case was later settled out of court.
At least 20,000 Floridian’s were disenfranchised because they were wrongly labeled felons, and close to 10,000 of those were African-Americans. So I presume it’s useless reminding you that George W. Bush won Florida by 537 votes and with that the presidency of the United States of America!
President-elect Barack Obama back in 2000 before all of these went down couldn’t even get onto the Democratic Convention floor in Los Angeles where Al Gore was having a gathering of the faithful to accept his nomination.
He watched speeches on a Jumbotron outside the arena and finally had to return home two days into the event dejected … he was a lost face in the crowd.
So for all the hurts and pains of the past eight years, talk less of those of past unforgettable brave generations, a big celebration has to go the tenacity of President-elect Obama’s strength in giving physic to the grief of a people and ultimately curing the disgrace of buried brave fathers and mothers.