|As a Chicagoan, I'm doubly proud of Obama|
|Published Tuesday, November 4, 2008|
As the country and the entire world watched Barack Obama give his acceptance speech from Grant Park in downtown Chicago, I have never been more proud to be from the Southside of Chicago.
I have lived in North Carolina off and on for the past 12 years and have a great love for this state. However, my personality is deeply rooted in the tough inner city streets of Chicago. Yes, the same city that President-elect Obama has helped in his community activism and has championed during his stint as a U.S. senator.
As I tell my students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, you must know your history in order to understand your current and future situations. Sen. Obama stands on the shoulders of other prominent African American Chicago politicians who were trailblazers in this country.
It is our duty to educate ourselves and our children about these men and women, such as William Dawson (possibly no relation), a powerful congressman who represented Illinois for 27 years in the U.S. House of Representatives (1943-70). Other great politicians included Sen. Charlie Chew (great-uncle) who made significant contributions to the historic African American community of Englewood; Harold Washington, the city’s first African American mayor who served from 1983 until his death in 1987; civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, creator of the PUSH-Rainbow Coalition and a two-time presidential candidate; and Carol Moseley Braun, who in 1996 became the first black woman to win election to the U.S. Senate.
When I asked my mother, Willie Dawson, a seven-year resident of Charlotte, if there were any comparisons of when Washington became mayor to Obama’s candidacy to become president, she said definitely.
“People were happy and excited like never before. We finally got a mayor, a person of color to lead a major city beside [Thomas] Bradley in Los Angeles. Politics in Chicago as a whole, it uplifted people to get out and vote more. It gave them a voice within the city government,” she said.
For a brief moment, I thought about pursuing politics when I attended Winston-Salem State University in the late 1990s. Although I decided not to, that aspiration was sparked by my knowledge and pride about the aforementioned political figures.
Obama, as the first African American president of the United States of America, is fulfilling the path that these profound politicians and several others paved for him.
Post correspondent David Dawson is a Chicago native.
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