Poet Kevin Coval on Obama's Chance for Change
The Chance to Change
today two Black girls will call the white house home
and a Black woman is first lady
and tonight will sleep next to her Black husband
in the master bedroom in the white house.
she will wake to plan the future
of all that china and crystal
when dignitaries dine in the coming years
she will descend the staircase in a gown.
today an African president is crowned in america.
he is the first and the forty-fourth
but today he is just
the number one will be
recorded for history books
though today is due to millions.
Fredrick Douglass and Shirley Chisholm
and today is so much Harold Washington
and the millions who organized and fought
to ensure the first was possible.
and today one in nine black men age
twenty to thirty four remains imprisoned
and today a Chicago mother will identify
her son's body as the moon wanes
in the night sky of the murder capital.
and today the body count escalates in Iraq
and Palestine and the war on drugs
in the same Southside streets today's
first learned from the ghost
hands of Ida B. Wells and Saul Alinsky,
where he met with folks with bodies
whose bodies are sick and tired from work
or looking and today the chance
of a Black boy graduating from a public school
that the first's secretary of education designate oversaw
and has an unconscionably low, failing grade.
and today is a celebration
and the Chicagoans who stand on the mall in DC
where slaves were once sold will think of brisk cool
as spring and the Virginians may frighten at the frost.
and today is so much Jackie Robinson
and Hank Aaron is yet to come
and the first is a promise, a finger forward
a new record, a Barak Obama in the whitened
ledger of american civics class, an implicit oath
of a number infinitely larger than one.
today is a celebration
and continuation in the hope of democracy
and as the first Black President in the United States
said in Grant Park
near a Great Lake
in the proudest and greatest
and most segregated of cities,
this is a chance to change
the open door, extended hand, rolled sleeves
the chance to fine tune and fix
dismantle and rebuild and completely reimagine
that the ancestors and angels who tonight dance
over the eyelids of two black girls sleeping safe
in the white house,
may the ancestors and angels parade too
in the shared rooms of every child
from the Westside to the West Bank
today is a day to dream
and ready for the work
Music Button: Le Hammond Inferon, "Stylostumph", from the CD New Testament of Funk, (Unique records)