I received this note from poet and artist Jeannette Drake, today 15th February 2008:
The handwriting is on the
wall. The questions are really unnecessary. Obama has been chosen by
God. He will be our first black president. God did not give me the
vision of which I wrote in this article [see below] for naught (as my
mother would say) and as my father would say, "the rest will be
revealed." I wish you peace, Jeannette
It's the day after the U.S. Presidential
Election. On my way
to the bookstore to pick up a copy of today's New York Times
that contains my sister's letter to the editor on voting, I
wonder about the college students. Will enough of
them become involved? Momentarily I catch a glimpse of the
license plate on the car in front of me. "W&M
72,"it reads. "Aha!" I say to myself, a student
from the years of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?";
funny, how thirty-two years later, those lyrics still have
Inside the bookstore I buy my copy of the
newspaper and ask the clerk about a book, which has caught my
eye in the window; What Makes A Man: Twenty-two Writers
Imagine the Future edited by Rebecca Walker. The
clerk checks the computer. The window copy is the only available
copy. He takes it out of the window and hands it to me.
I take a seat to skim the pages. Among the essays is one by
"Obama 2008!" the young man says to
a young woman standing at the counter. She nods. "Yes,
that's right! I tell them both. "That message came through
to me. I felt the ancestral spirits watching over Ohio
The young man and woman fasten their eyes on
me. I continue. "The ancestral spirits of Toni Morrison,
Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove, and Thylias Moss, all gathered last
night; but the vision I was receiving didn't become fully clear
to me until today after I heard Kerry making his concession
speech. Then I understood more of what I sensed last night. You
are right about Obama."
The young clerk smiles. He understands. The
young woman nods again, then tells him a few minutes later,
she's leaving to take care of a chore.
Across age, race, gender and background, the
student and I continue our conversation for a while; exchange
questions and answers; opinions. We are both social scientists,
Democrats. He is 25, working on his dissertation on Human
Geography, from the mid-west, attending college in the south,
temporarily in Virginia to do research on an aspect of his
I am "from the 60s." I marched to
integrate drug stores. I am native to Tidewater, Virginia,
full of my years of professional social worker and teaching, not
as young as he imagines; a writer who decided at age 40 to
engage in the process of living the rest of her days as
healthily as possible.
"Well, maybe Obama's election to the Senate
will set the table," the young student says.
"Yes, this is true, every story has a beginning, a middle
and an end. This is a beginning." The
student nods agreement. I continue. "And when you get
to the end, you are back at the beginning. What goes around,
comes around, except on a different level, like in a
spiral." I gesture a spiral.
"Everyone was excited yesterday about
the possibility of Kerry winning…even at the car wash,"
he says. " I didn't expect so much passion there. Everyone
wanted to know when I went in, did you vote? Whom did you vote
for? When I said, "Kerry, they were really pleased."
I ask the student about the lack of interest
in political matters common to his generation. "Where
does the apathy come from? "It's the way we grew up; a kind
of post-modern detachment," he explains. "All
those politicians are just alike; we thought Clinton would be
different, but then in his personal life…" The
student's voice trails off.
"Oh, I see," I say. "Clinton
was to you, as Kennedy was to us."
"Yes." He beams a little.
"I liked Kerry, but he didn't excite me. Obama
excites me!" (Thank you, Jesus, I silently muse.)
We talk a little longer. I ask him about his
field of study, "human geography." "It's a
field that has split somewhat from geography, like a ginkgo
leaf," he explains. " When I was in undergraduate
school, I joked that I wanted to major in Omniscience." I
laugh. "Human geography gives me a chance to really enjoy
how people and space relate."
When I ask him to explain how blues and jazz
would fit within the paradigm of Human Geography, he tells me
about the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
He explains the possible ways one could approach blues from the
vantage point of human geography; examining the music's trail
from West Africa to the cotton fields of Mississippi; the
reasons why the museum sits exactly where it is; the reasons why
people continue to come there today; what is it they want to
take away? etc. etc.
"Yes," I tell him. "I saw the
PBS special and immediately said to myself, I want to visit
there. You see, this is another reason why I am not ready to
become senile. I want to experience the nostalgia of the blues;
be reminded of visiting my grandfather as a child in North
Carolina; I want to go see places I've never been, like your
home state." He smiles. I wax on.
"I haven't been to a lot of places;
Spain, California, Florida, recently to New Mexico. I loved the
landscape in New Mexico. I felt as though I was on another
"Yeah", he says. "The
difference in landscape across this country is phenomenal."
"And of course, I've traveled close to
Virginia; D.C., Maryland, North Carolina, briefly to South
Carolina, the airports in Atlanta and Denver. I can't travel
around in airports if I'm really senile and not in good physical
condition." He laughs.
"Well, you don't look all that old, like
you could have been in the 60's." We laugh
We talk a little more about America's theory
of being the "melting pot." "With Obama,"
I say, "we have a metaphor on many levels; a symbol of how
the "melt" may be a little different from the way in
which it might have been originally imagined."
The student understands. "There
are interracial couples everywhere," he says.
"Yes," I reply. "And I found a while
ago, as a poet in the schools, that many students were more
global than I realized. Some tend to transcend racial and ethnic
boundaries in their writing."
It is time for me to go. I give
back Rebecca Walker's new book, What Makes A Man.
Perhaps I will purchase it later. Two days ago I quite
unexpectedly ran across and purchased Dreams from My Father,
Obama's 1995 memoir. I need to remember that I still live on a
"struggling writer's" budget.
The student and I exchange names and a
handshake. Our exchange has been a confirmation of
my vision. God has not deserted my people… "my people
lending their strength to the years, to the gone years and the
now years and the maybe years…washing, ironing, cooking,
scrubbing…trying to fashion a world that will hold all the
people, all the faces, all the adams and eves… "
No, Yahweh has not deserted us
I don't know if it will be "Obama in
2008!" However, I am certain that I will live to see him
become President of the United States of America.
"Let a new earth rise. Let a second generation full of
courage issue forth; let a people loving freedom come to