Redemption Song

Shoot, this made me cry.

For me the most moving moment came when the family in front of me, comprising probably 4 generations of voters (including an 18 year old girl voting for her first time and a 90-something hunched-over grandmother), got their turn to vote. When the old woman left the voting booth she made it about halfway to the door before collapsing in a nearby chair, where she began weeping uncontrollably. When we rushed over to help we realized that she wasn’t in trouble at all but she had not truly believed, until she left the booth, that she would ever live long enough to cast a vote for an African-American for president.

When you think about everything that woman’s seen–90 years of history in a country only 230 years old–it’s pretty amazing.  That woman’s grandparents were born into slavery.  She knew people who were born enslaved and she’s lived long enough to vote for an African-American president.

I just can’t help it.  I’m a sucker for these songs of freedom.

12 thoughts on “Redemption Song

  1. Pingback: When I Will Cry « Just Another Pretty Farce

  2. I remember my mother, who came here without documentation, in fact, arrived here in a shoebox, carried by her mother, going to her final interview before becoming a citizen. At that meeting, she was told by an INS officer that though they couldn’t stop her from pursuing citizenship, they could deport her mother who never got her documents in order. My mother had to wait until her mother died to finally get citizenship. I’ll never forget how that affected her. EVER.

  3. Let me say up front that I’m about ready to get in a knife-fight with INS over your mom and grandma right now.

    But then I have to ask–how big were your grandma’s feet that a baby could fit in her shoebox?!

  4. I’m suddenly struck by the realization that the shoebox you mean is much larger than the cardboard boxes my shoes come in, but I’d feel weird about covering the tracks of my own idiocy.

  5. Ha, who knows. But my mother was an infant. Its funny, that she grew up here, went through WW2 and worked in the factories, (a real Rosie The Riveter) went back to school to get her GED, then opened a business and payed taxes, in short, participated in and PAID FOR her American dream, only to be denied full participation until she was well into her forties.

    (sorry to hijack the thread, and, I don’t want to try and equate the struggles of these two families, but, there are striking similarities.)

  6. Hey, that’s no thread hijack! I think you can easily say “What you’re going through made me think of what we went through” without it being reducible to “Our struggles are exactly the same!”

  7. B, I cried, too, reading that excerpt to my colleague. Although we don’t share the same politics, he’s a very reasonable and open-minded individual (unlike me, ha) and also sniffled. The first thing he said was precisely the point of your post: “That good lady knew slaves and now gets to vote for an African-American person for president. That just gives me chills. How blessed for her.”

    Now you see why I get along with my colleague.

    Thank you for linking to it. Now I’ll probably dream about that dear lady dancing with the little Obama girls at the Inaugural Ball, too.

  8. Mack, this country has a long history of dumping on Mexicans (and U.S. citizens of Mexican descent). Your story calls to mind something I recall hearing about the U.S. government enacting sweeping deportation policies before and after WWII, and that many of those forcibly sent south of the border were U.S. citizens.

    Lookie what I found on the intertubes:

    The Mexican Repatriation

    Operation Wetback

    I’m guessing what happened to your mom wasn’t an isolated incident, Mack.

  9. No, it wasn’t C.S.

    Those types of policies are what drove my father to run for office. I remember long visits to Mexico, and my Dad beng treated like royalty. (He was a very good fund-raiser)

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