Making History!

Happy Inauguration Day 2009! This is a day we have been waiting for for a long, long time. This is also a day that many of us never thought we would get the chance to see.

My heart cannot contain what it means for this country and for the world that have an African American man as our President. My mind stretches to imagine what organizing will be like in the months and years ahead.

After nearly a decade of repressive and oppressive policies, we must pay attention to the new dynamics and adjust our organizing and the way we talk about what it important to both take advantage of the opportunities that this new administration will provide and to take on the new challenges of accountability that having a potentially progressive ally leading our country bring after eight years of struggle. Yes, it is a time of change!

Among the hundreds of thousands witnessing the Inauguration in DC today is Kim Kambak from Prineville. Kim is a native Oregonian who is deeply involved in her community from selling her organic eggs at the Farmers Marker to serving on the Crook County planning commission. She ran a very respectable campaign for Crook County judge this past year and has spent time with her Presbyterian Church in Cuba and more recently in California working on issues of gender and marriage equity. Kim attended Jimmy Carter’s inauguration as a student at George Washington University and choose to travel to DC once again to be at today’s inauguration.

Here’s a short excerpt from Kim that she was able to share with ROPers from across the miles. Being here in DC is “inspiring and amazing” from listening to the old civil rights songs to talking about the future. Kim says that, “Now is the time to begin to make change and it isn’t gonna happen with one person in office; it is going to take all of us who have been doing this for years. I am excited about America and all of our citizens!”

And while I know that we are going to have to continue to push and force the political will to make the changes and deliver on the campaign promises that our country and world are so desperately in need of, today is a day for celebration! We are used to being disappointed and pragmatic and critical; we are not used to feeling hopeful and celebrating our victories. Today is a historical day to do just that!

As Cornel West said back in March of Obama, “When he wins…I will celebrate for one day. I’ll break-dance in the morning and party in the afternoon. But the next day, I’ll become one of his major critics…” As organizers, we are the ones who can provide the power of a movement to make the change that Obama promises – and that will mean continuing to push – but my hope and my desire is that we can now do that from a place of hope and vision and creativity. That we will no longer be united by our common anger and frustration with an administration that pushes for war without end, strips us of our civil liberties, and preys on our fear to build walls on the border and within our own communities, but that we will rise to the challenge of uniting in hard times through our shared commitment to take care of our families and communities, to uphold the human dignity of all people everywhere, and to find creative solutions to the very real problems that we face.

As folks are gathering for parties from Klamath Falls to Lincoln County, enjoy your celebrations tonight! Practice holding joy in your hearts and sharing the possibilities for true justice and peace with your friend and neighbors. And start planting the seeds now for what that work looks like in the coming year!

With gratitude for all you have done to make today the celebration that it is – and for all that you will do to realize the promise of today!