I remember when Barack Obama was just elected, having the best talk with an African American women in the deodorant aisle of CVS. The two of us, so clearly from different places in the world, were brought together by the excitement he’d inspired in both of us. Although our accidental conversation was just about 15 minutes, I felt connected to this woman when I left the store. I knew part of it was because I could feel the pride she had because a man that was the same color as she was would be sitting in the white house, but part of it was also because his essence and ability to display leadership was infectious and had allowed this conversation to happen in the first place. We’d broken a barrier as a country. It made her stand taller. And me too. It was the loveliest moment.
Those were the days when I felt a deep sense of hopefulness in the leader we’d chosen to guide us. Obama was and is a gifted orator and unifier. His words back then inspired me in the deepest parts of myself. His enthusiasm made me feel empowered. His grace, his inclusivity, his reasonable rationality made me feel as though I were being safely held. I didn’t feel any sense of divide back then. In fact, I felt like I was an important part of one big melting pot.
I’m so grateful to know what that kind of hope feels like. Obama spoke to my need to have a moral leader at the helm, a man who acted with humanity and integrity for all eight years of his time in the Oval. No ugly. No scandals.
Those first years of the Obama presidency made me heady with hope. Those were good days. I will always remember them. And I will continue to look toward that president and what he taught me about having a moral center, about bringing everybody into the tent, about the importance of being a good person.