This is dedicated to you, my dear Grandma Sallie,
You were the most loving, wise, patriotic grandmother any child could wish for. To me, you were perfect in every way. Your home was always filled with family, friends and food that would blow anyone’s mind. It wasn’t just me who believed that. People came from miles around for your meals. Yet, you were never paid enough for your worth to allow you to move beyond your simple means. So it was and always has been for the majority of African Americans.
I always considered you wealthy, although the truth was the reverse. Your modest home was always clean and no one was turned away. Your home was a salvation for the needy where you collected clothing and funds for family, friends and neighbors. I learned about community service and charity firsthand from you. You never wore makeup, always wore a simple house dress and apron, but I thought you were the most beautiful and smartest lady in the world. As I grew older, I realized I was right about you. I always felt loved, safe and happy around you.
Your spirit…your spirit…
You were the last in our family born into slavery. I remember your stories of struggle and the pain of our people. You said, “Get your education!” I did. I became a teacher and activist, following what you taught me. Outside of school where I should have learned about slavery which built this nation, I learned the stories were worse than what you told me. I have learned to survive in a country where racism has always been a part of my life to the point where the poison is no longer hidden from anyone. I remember you were patriotic and believed in the good of all people. A picture of JFK hung on your wall for many years.
You told me to vote. Always. You once said it would be nice to have a “negro” president who cared about our people. You said it with hope in our future. I promised you I would always vote…and know who and what I was voting for.
Well Mrs. Sallie E. Hunt, I kept my promise to you. I have always voted since age 18. And for the past 5 years, I dedicated my life to the election and reelection of President Barack Hussein Obama, the first black president, but more important, possibly the greatest president this nation has ever had. And while our work is hardly over, we are on to a good start to make this country into something you prayed and dreamed of.
Under President Obama, I feel safe, I believe Obama cares, and I face the future with optimism and hope.
And so, I dedicate this song and celebration of the election of President Obama to you, and to all the slaves who struggled and died for a country that used, abused and despised them. It seems the hate never left. But I remember you said to love even the haters because they know not what they do. I will try to remember that part. And I will keep hope alive.
In closing, this song is for you. I know you will always be with me.
Aretha Franklin’s version