God bless you.
Praise the Lord!
Thank you Jesus!
For the first time in American history, a black man, Barack Obama, has been elected
President of the United States of America!!!
As a black boy born and raised in Mississippi in the 1940s, I never thought I'd ever
participate in and see this day come to pass.
My boyhood was haunted by fears of lynching by whites if we dared try to vote or
cross the segregation lines and signs to eat, drink, sit, stand, study, buy, dress, sleep,
pray, play, work or live in places restricted "For White Only."
I was born in a house across the cotton field in Lyon, Miss., a small delta town north
of Clarksdale, 70 miles south of Memphis off highway 61. We received our mail at the
post office a half mile away. I attended school in a two-room wooden building where one
teacher taught four grades in each room.
The school had no plumbing, no gas and no electricity. Each room was heated by
a pot-bellied stove in the middle of the room and it was the job of the biggest and
strongest boys in the school to chop the wood and fuel the stoves. Our toilet was a
wooden co-ed outhouse that housed a wooden bench with a hole cut in the middle of the
seat. If the line and the wait were too long, one could relieve himself in the cotton field
that surrounded the school. But that wasn't too bad because when you would squat in the
middle of a row, you had organic toilet tissue on both sides of you in the form of plush
bolls of cotton.
I lived just 15 miles fron where Emmitt Till was lynched allegedly for giving a wolf
whistle to a white woman he saw passing by. The Ku Klux Klan ruled with violence and
fear and white men, in general, occasionally killed blacks for sport.
My mother, Sarah Lorraine Banks, helped my preaching father, Rev. A. D. Banks,
keep food on the table by washing and ironing clothes for white people. The happiest
day in my life previously was the day my father moved us from Lyon to Kansas
City, Kan., a year after my mother died. And the first time I ever went to an integrated
school was when I graduated from the racially segregated, but immensely outstanding,
Sumner High School in KCK, to attend the University of Kansas.
While living in KCK, and attending KU, I participated in many civil rights
demonstrations, including the 1963 March on Washington led by St. Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. I once staged a one-man picketing out front of the KU administration building
as a student protesting the racism of white fraternities and sororities. At KU, I was the
first black president of the KU-Y, the school's largest student organization and I was the
only black to help represent the U.S. YMCAs in the 1964 International Workshop
Seminar in Omuta, Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
But I never thought America would progress socially and politically fast enough and
well enough for a black man to become U.S. President.
My wife, Joyce, my daughters Nicole, Noelle and Natasha, my sisters Lue Kuicious
Brown and Verynca Williams, and my brothers Rev. Jimmie Lee and Rev. Ephthallia
Banks and I all voted early to avoid the voting-day mobs.
We prayed, prayed, prayed and voted and God answered our prayers. Obama has
been elected U.S. President.
But perhaps the only thing greater than my joy of a black man being elected
President is the fact that he, by far, is the best candidate and the best chance for our
country to receive the leadership it needs to rescue us from the awful, terrible plague
of problems brought on by eight years of disastrous leadership by Republican President
I served as one of few black officers in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and
I integrated such previously all-white newspapers such as the Kansas City Star, the
Indianapolis News, the Indianapolis Star and the Chicago Sun-Times.
Now let's not expect too much too soon. Too much wrong has been done to our
nation by the Bush administration and their wealthy cohorts that it will take far more than
Obama to get this country and this planet back on the right track. It's going to take a
radical revision of leadership in the highest levels of government, business, religion,
education and environmental management for this country to be revived and saved.
Too many people have lost their homes, their jobs, their health insurance, their
pension, their savings, their hope and their happiness for just a new President to change
too much too soon.