My Evening With the G.O.A.T.

BB&Gcmac's Weblog

****Re-post in honor of The G.O.A.T / Original January 17 2012****

Upon hearing that today is the 70th Birthday for the (Greatest of All Time) Muhammad Ali, it reminded me of the evening that I was honored to spend with The Champ.  The year was 2005 and the occasion was “The Butterfly Ball” in Atlanta, Georgia.  The event was a fundraiser for The Ali Center, a museum dedicated to the career and humanitarian efforts of Ali that was being constructed in Louisville, KY.

Before I go further you have to understand what Muhammad Ali meant to me growing up in the 70s.  As a child there were two celebrities that I looked up to.  Muhammad Ali and then Sugar Ray Leonard.  At the time I was too young to understand Ali’s political and heroic defiant stand against participating in the Vietnam War, and I wasn’t necessarily a boxing aficionado. …

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Obama vs Errbody! Part 1 “Am I Dreaming? In my Lifetime?”

Obama vs. Errbody is a series of short post summarizing my personal view of the 44th President of the United States…who happens to be Black.

Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009.
(Photo by Pete Souza)

Mentally I comprehended the victory of Barack Hussein Obama II on November 4, 2008.  All the votes were in.  His 332 electoral votes were official.  All the networks had confirmed this victory. Social media was abuzz all over the world. As he stood in Chicago’s, Grant Park on November 4, 2008 in front of some 240,000 excited citizens, it had all the makings of a historical moment.  The Illinois senator was to be known as the first African-American president.  Still it was a surreal moment for me.  Through the election season he was drawing record crowds whenever he appeared onstage.  A multitude of people would gather as if he was a rock star of epic proportions.  Now, in spite of my disbelief, the reality was that I witnessed something that I never thought I would during my lifetime; if ever!

On January 20, 2009 President Obama was inaugurated.  This too was a monumental moment filled with hundreds of thousands of people flooding Washington D.C.  This despite the rather blustery and frigid weather.  A who’s who of performing artist, movie stars such as Spike Lee, Kerry Washington, Hill Harper and Bradley Cooper just to name a few joined a multitude of American idealist looking to witness and embrace; something they could tell their grandchildren.  It started to dawn on me just a little bit more.  A man that looks like me, is the President of the United States!  But it wasn’t 100!  I kept believing that someone would snatch the moment from me, from us.  There would be some legal technicality revealed just for this occasion.  There would be a Supreme Court decision led by Scalia and Thomas in order to thwart this moment.  Surprisingly, and at least publicly, no such diabolical plan surfaced.  But I still wasn’t 100% convinced in the reality that my country pulled this off.

A month or so later I went to the social security office.  I don’t remember what for.  Perhaps because the most significant moment for me during that visit had nothing to do with why I went there in the first place.  All I remember is that after getting my number, while waiting in a chair for my number to be called, I saw a photo on the wall.  It was the photo that changed the game for me. Where I recall seeing Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and then another Bush in my public schools, the United States Air Force, and then state and federal governments offices, including the DMV and now the social security office, was a photo of Barack Obama.  Striking a rather benign pose, in a blue suite, with the flag behind his right shoulder looking presidentially astute, was indeed… The President.  This was the moment that I was fully persuaded that the man of Kenyan descent, by way of Hawaii, Harvard, then Chicago’ a man with cocoa skin, was the President of the United States. It was legitimate. It was real.