Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Twenty years ago, Ali and I joined Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition and got to see, from the bottom rung of the ladder, the political machinery that runs our country when we participated in the selection of delegates to represent the Democratic party in the presidential election. It was an exciting time for both of us, albeit for very different reasons. For Ali, the 1988 election marked his entry into citizenship and the empowerment that the right to vote for the first time gives us all. For me, though, the election called to mind the more turbulent times of my childhood when young people across the country stood up to the political machinery and demanded that they, too, be counted.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Much like the election of 1960 and the Democratic Convention of 1968 must have done for those who were old enough to participate (I was not), the 1988 election cycle offered me hope for greater things. It also provided me with a greater understanding of how utterly powerful the wall of ignorance in America had remained beyond the Civil Rights Movement. I learned that although the times had changed considerably, they hadn't metamorphosed quite enough to allow a black man to realistically aspire to the highest political office in the land. But the most important lesson of 1988 for me was that hope would really die only if we allowed it to happen.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

For twenty years, I've hung onto the hope that America would change enough to build a true coalition that realistically represents what this country is all about. There have been times when I wondered if we would ever cross the bridge spanning the gap between ignorance and inclusion, but I have always held onto the hope that someday we would and that someday would happen during my lifetime. Yesterday, my hope was realized.

We've still got a way to go before we can say that we have crossed the bridge of ignorance and reached the promised land of inclusion, but at least we are on it and moving steadily forward! Bobby Kennedy said it best:

"The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason, and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American society. Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny."

So to those who are unhappy with the results of the 2008 election, I reiterate

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road
Is rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.
Labels: , , Bookmark and Share | edit post
0 Responses

Post a Comment

What's on your mind?