Greetings from a Grinnellian who is living in Obamaland. Did you know I live a block from President Obama's Chicago home? It is incredibly thrilling and exciting. You can't imagine!
As I write this before the inauguration, the streets and sidewalks are blocked off. When we neighbors come out of our houses/condos, we run into the FBI in black, with their cars; the Secret Service, incognito, and their cars; the City of Chicago Police, in full dress, with their cars; and the sniffing dogs, with their cars. Security is so tight that neighbors are questioned and must show identification to get to their own homes. And visitors, well, that is another story. We are so proud of our famous neighbor, we have learned to deal with the inconvenience.
It is absolutely awesome to see the Obama entourage of five black limousines with smoked windows, thoroughly interspersed with City of Chicago Police cars, going at a good pace down Hyde Park Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive to a meeting downtown with the leaders of the nation. Or, he could be going to the health club down the street.
Never did I expect an African American to be elected president of the United States of America. I am descended from generations of Mississippians. I was born in the sovereign state of Mississippi. I remember my beautiful great-aunt, the lovely Mary Jane Calvert, who was born a slave in 1850 at the height of slavery. She died at the age of 104 in May 1954, at the time of the momentous Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision - the beginning of the civil rights movement in the courts.
I am a retired community college history faculty member. With this background, you can see why I am incredulous and so very proud of what the people did Nov. 4, 2008.
I am especially proud of the people of Iowa who gave Obama his first caucus victory, proving to the nation that Obama was a creditable and winnable candidate.
When you are in Chicago, call me, and we can explore Obamaland!
Originally published as an online web extra for The Grinnell Magazine, Spring 2008