Guest Author - Gina Cowley
Hopefully, the United States Constitution is uppermost in the minds of many during election years and this year especially. One has to wonder at what the framers would say were they around today. They did not envision times such as these as they drafted and signed the governing document of this country. One has to only read it to confirm that this day was not anticipated by them.
As women, we are living eventful times politically along with our country and there is no shame in being an emotional woman when the occasion arises.
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution bestowed voting rights upon black men and other men regardless of race in 1870. Shamefully, about ten years after Ms. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was necessary to remove barriers created to keep black men from exercising the right to vote in the south. Barack Obama, the first black man in America to secure the opportunity to run for president of the United States will give his acceptance speech at his party’s convention on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s plea for a harmonious day in which blacks and whites might co-exist.
This month also marks the 88th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution which gave women the right to vote. The last of the thirty-six states needed for ratification to cast the affirmative vote was Tennessee and only by one. Harry Burn, twenty-four years old and apparently no fan of the Amendment, did cast the deciding affirmative ballot after being urged to do so by his mother. Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak at the convention on the 88th anniversary of the certification of that vote. Without question, the former first lady’s participation in the process this year is indeed historical.
But the woman who now captures the world’s attention is Michelle Obama. She has been called, among other things angry, unpatriotic and a “baby mama.” Might at times, hurtful monikers be embraced? She is very well educated, articulate, accomplished, proud and strong. She must be thrilled that she is at the threshold of being the first black woman to reside in the house of houses with her family. And why would she not be? And why should she not be? This house, to which early presidents brought their house slaves to stay during their terms, along with the rest of their property, might see Michelle Obama as mistress of its corridors – tracing footsteps of those black women who previously served there. Those black women who dreamed of lives beyond their condition - knowing that America’s governing document counted them only as three-fifths of one person, a federal ratio. She might sleep or kiss her girls into slumber in chambers previously tended by black women separated from their children by sale or whip. She might dine with foreign dignitaries alongside a president, the man she loves and was free to choose to marry, at tables previously served by black women, eyes downcast, owned and ordered about – some mourning husbands they lost or were forbidden to have. Michelle Obama might walk with the ghosts of presidents who believed that race and gender should pose no barrier to the fruition of any desire an American might possess – and sit with a president who has ridden that forward thinking into the house of houses. This woman has every right to embrace every emotion she has been criticized for experiencing and more.
Michelle Obama, who is prepared to dedicate her life, alongside her husband with small children in tow, to this country’s high service - a country that took its own sweet time, in servicing them – has every right to be an emotional woman fearing neither ignorant criticism nor reprisal in return.
I hope she does the happy dance in her kitchen at night when the cameras aren’t watching her. I hope she does the happy dance with her girls.