It’s 3:35 p.m. on a February Sunday in Chicago. The weather has been bitterly cold over the last week and today is not much different. It is cold and windy with a gray overcast. The temperature is in the single lower digits. Being a lazy afternoon, I was laying around watching a close basketball game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. It was then that I began to reflect on some of the events that are taking place all over Chicago due to Black History Month. Barack Obama the junior senator (Dem.) from Illinois threw his hat in the ring as a candidate for the presidency of the United States. A couple of things were sure to draw comments:

1) His announcement was made at the Lincoln Memorial in Springfield.

2) It was during Black History Month.

It is being touted that Obama’s humble upbringing is similar to that of an earlier president, Abraham Lincoln.

He is also African-American, which implies that both events were timely and historical.

With all the of the attention being given Mr. Obama, the positive atmosphere he is generating, not only at home but abroad, is somewhat overwhelming and refreshing.

The war in Iraq, the failing economy, joblessness, health insurance, homelessness, etc., echo a cry from Americans demanding an end to it all. People have seemingly lost faith in the same old pompous rich politicians in Washington who are viewed as out of touch with the American people. The grand possession of rhetorical dialogue given before members of the House and Senate is a plate of the same old stew we have eaten over the years. People are saying change the menu-we want to try something new.

Barack Obama seems to be the candidate who may bring something new to the table. It is far too early in the race to predict the outcome. However, I can assure you that win, lose, or draw, Mr. Obama will have made a profound impact on American politics.

I am not amazed at the attention Mr. Obama is getting or wondering why. I can’t help but think back to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and Rev. Al Sharpton, both of whom ran for the office of president of the United States. Did they draw this kind of excitement? The answer is no. My question is, why not? Were they serious in their quest? Only they can answer that. Regardless of what any of us may think about them, they were necessary. Rev. Jackson was a protégé of the late Rev. Martin Luthur King Jr., who, like him, was the drum major, the pioneer who paved the way to make it possible for us to ever think a person of African-American descent would have a chance to run for the highest office in this country. He had the courage to speak out about issues that many of us would only mumble about under our breath. He had the courage to challenge the status quo. There is a lot of that same drum major in Rev. Sharpton, and there is that same drum major in many of you out there who go unnoticed.

I say, keep beating the drum and one day we will make the dream a reality.

John Simmons