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It Takes a Village

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Naila and her daughter Kennedy are covering the inauguration for momlogic. In Day One, she told us about the genesis of her journey. Here, her adventure continues ...

Naila, Kennedy and Barack Obama

"You could feel our ancestors ..." Hill Harper said while accepting an award today at the Essence magazine brunch ... a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree.

African, Irish, German, Cherokee, Polish, Russian, Jew ... for this celebration, the inauguration isn't singular to African Americans, it is a victory for hope, a triumph to staying the course, to family, to caring about and for your brother ... it is the voice that defines us. It is the true story of America.

It's the story that is played everyday in cities and small towns across this country where communities and families pitch together for the collective good. It is knowing that Obama is not the savior, but rather a symbol defining the best part of this nation, that spirit and fortitude that has always prevailed no matter the challenge.

When my daughter was around eight months old, overwhelmed and underemployed, I called my parents, convinced that I was a failure. My mom, her voice full of love and concern, said "come home" ... and so I did, but departed days later, sans my daughter. For much of my daughter's early life, Ackie and pandad (as she affectionately calls my mom and dad), kept the waters at bay for me, kept my emotional dam from breaking, while I navigated being a single parent and solidified my financial situation.

Few people, even those very close to me, know that my father is not my biological dad. My mom was a twenty-five-year-old woman with a five-year-old child, he a twenty-four-year-old man, with fiery red hair and piercing blue eyes. Soon after meeting, my mom shared her desire to save enough money to bring me to live with her. My dad, notoriously money-conscious, emptied his savings and without hesitation gave the money to my mom, simply saying, "Go get your daughter".

Baby and Dad

That was 1974. For six years, it was just the three of us, and for my entire life, he has been my dad, chasing the bad dreams away in the night, drawing loraxes on my lunch bags, teaching me to skate and hoisting me high to traverse the monkey bars, driving me to and from gymnastics, track practices, and being the constant in all of the major events in my life, even when I was not accepting. So it should come as no surprise that my daughter is the light of his life.

Barack Hussein Obama was given his wings to soar not only by his mother, but also by his grandparents who for seven plus years strengthened our future president with constant love that was not dulled or diminished by the varying hues in their skin.

Walking the streets of Washington last night with my daughter clasping my hand tightly, seeing the excitement flooding out of her milky brown eyes, I prayed a silent thank you to the village of love that held our future 44th strong.


Now we are five instead of three ... Benjamin and Samantha, my closest friends (aka my sister and brother) joined us six and ten years later respectively. My dad's hair is more gray than red, but my daughter Kennedy says it best ...

"My pandad is amazing! He taught me my first words and to this day teaches me math. We are always laughing for no reason and we love to play outside. I always beg for Anne's Dairy Drive ice cream because it's best ice cream ever. And he always says yes, because I am the only granddaughter. And Obama is cool, mom, but not he's not granddaddy. He's just the president."

Presidents are not born, they are created. With the very ingredients that brought our 44th President into office:

Responsibility. Spirit. Tenacity ...

And hope.

Check out Naila and Kennedy's videos from the inauguration here.

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Barack Obama Obama Family's Matching Style

next: Why Can't Barack Obama Be White?
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Whatever January 19, 2009, 6:14 PM

You’re right. Presidents are not born, they are created. They’re created by the political party powerhouse machine that targets, courts, grooms, and then financially backs the man they determine to be most likely to succeed in an election. No decent man or woman of true charcter would ever be part of all the behind closed doors dealings that must take place to get elected as this nation’s president. Men & women in politics who sincerely care about the people of America and care about making real change in the lives of the people they serve never make it past the local level of politics. So yes, BO was created alright. Created by the political powers that be…..just like every high powered political figure before him. If you honestly believe any differently than that, you’re not as politically informed as you think.

Ella January 19, 2009, 7:58 PM

In responding to the comment above, I respect the fact that you shared your opinion, and for me, when a person shares a personal perspective, I find there is much more power in it, when it is owned by words such as: “I feel, I believe, I think” or some variation on that, and then that comment can be understood, I feel,for what it is, which is simply a personal opinion, not a blanket statement of fact with more validity than anyone else’s opinion. I simmply disagree, and I do not believe that my or any one else’s thinking that it is possible for politicians above a certain local level to retain a value system should be equated with not being polically informed.

Ella January 19, 2009, 9:24 PM

I am sorry for that extra m, as well as the missing ti. I will proof better next time, should there be one.

Louminous January 20, 2009, 12:05 AM

Great piece and I’m glad your getting to experience it first hand, we can all relate to the growth and struggles he’s overcome to reach such a high seat. Yes, Presidents may have the way paved for them by the powers that be, but Leaders are created from within… Obama is a true leader, an inspiration to millions and a breath of fresh air in a time of despair. So to “whatever”, enjoy this great time in history regardless of your vast amounts of political knowledge, people are being moved and willing to take action. Despite what facts may say about the past, We control the future and We have the power to change this country from the inside. Obama may not be able to personally create significant change from his position but he can inspire a nation to stand up and demand it.

Kaeqktrm June 30, 2009, 5:30 AM

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Bguttzgy July 1, 2009, 6:25 AM

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