A new day on the way.

Northern Lights over Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.


Hey Folks,

I can’t overstate the import of what the world saw this past week. For the first time ever the people of the US elected an African American president, Barack Obama, and the value that such a moment carries is immeasurable. A bare 40 years have past since Bill Russell became the first African American head coach in the NBA. 10 years ago the world saw the first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company (how ironic is it that Franklin Raines became CEO of — wait for it — Fannie Mae!!!!) There are innumerable examples of things like this all highlighting the magnitude of this moment. But perhaps none more than this one;

40 years ago this year African American sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos were evicted from the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games after they raised their fists in protest over the issue of civil rights and as a gesture of black power and unity. While some folks argued that such protests and political action had no business in the Olympics, it’s worthy to note that Avery Brundage, the president of the International Olympic Committee at the time and man responsible for their suspension, had also been President of the United States Committee in 1936 and made no formal objection to the Nazi salutes given in Berlin. I can’t help but wonder at the feelings that must still be resonating with Tommy Smith and John Carlos today, watching another African American stand on the podium of the highest office in the land, as the President of the United States. 

I must also point out, of course, that the 2nd place getter in that infamous race was an Aussie, Peter Norman, and it was his idea that John Carlos wear Tommy’s left-hand glove, after John had forgot to bring his gloves to the ceremony. Peter supported their cause and wore an Olympics Project for Human Rights medal to the ceremony. Unfortunately, he passed in 2006; I’m sure it would’ve meant a lot to him to see this election (Tommy Smith and John Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral).

This has nothing to do with photography, true, but it has everything to do with photography. Louis Armstrong said it best, perhaps, when he said, of art, ‘what we play is life’. There’d be little art in this world if it weren’t for this thing called life we get to experience. It’s through moments like this, profound moving moments, that I connect with something inside that pushes me forward a little further. What just happened this past tuesday still rattles me; rattles me in a good way, in a positive way, a way that can only be a step forward for my humility, for my humanity, regardless of political convictions. I don’t care whether we’re republicans or democrats or libertarian or communists or business people or farmers or musicians or teachers or whatever – we’re people, and that must always come first, must come before economics, before foreign policy, ideology, etc.

To see such enormous support for an African American candidate, to see him elected clear winner as the president is an expression of why this country is the “United” States of America. We’ll probably never entirely step away from things like racism, but they sure look better from a distance. This country put more than a few more miles between herself and that nasty business this week, and for that, above all else, we should be happy and proud.

Congratulations, and Cheers, America.


7 thoughts on “A new day on the way.

  1. Dave Taylor

    Very eloquently put Carl, nicely put indeed. I couldn’t agree more. No matter what your political leanings, if (as a person) you can not find the huge significance in this elections history and meaning to all people (regardless of color) – then we still have a long road ahead… which is what I fear. There are still people out there that harbor ill feelings to blacks, latinos, gays/lesbians, varying religious beliefs, and yes – women. If you truly believe in equality, and then idly stand by when people name call and use hateful words, then you are an enabler and part of the problem – not the solution. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
    Either way, Carl – very good posting. Relevant, accurate, insightful, and moving.

  2. Carl D Post author

    Hey Dave,

    Thanks for the note, bud. I’ve always loved that quote by Burke, though I have to question how we can call people who stand by evil and do nothing as ‘good men’.

    The Election really touched me – Barack’s acceptance speech moved me more than I imagined a politician’s speech ever would. The moment was undeniably powerful.



  3. Dave Taylor

    I felt the same way watching his speech. For me it wasn’t his words, but watching the reaction of the crowd in the park and the clips they showed from all over the world, the hope and obvious inspiration they were soaking in – a revelation for politics. And the following praise coming from around the world, a feeling of good will towards the U.S. that hasn’t been seen since 9/11 – which was all too quickly squandered by the current administration. Real hope… if the rest of his presidency achieves nothing else, it will be a success in my mind. But still, I hope for more.

  4. Carl Donohue

    Hey Dave,

    I listened to the speeches on the radio, so I didn’t see the crowds. I definitely think, from what I’ve read, there’s a grander sense of goodwill towards the US, which is important. Hopefully we’ll build on, rather than erode, that friendliness.



  5. Carl D Post author

    Hey Mark,

    Yeah, I saw a few clips around the net since, and I’ll check out the NYT video too, thanks man,

    By the way, your post got tossed into my spam bucket – what you been eating lately? :0



  6. Neil Donohue

    Hi Carl,
    Really enjoyed reading your post on the presidential election and I thought you expressed the sentiments of many people in the US and around the world. I wish Obama all the luck in the world – I think he’ll need it. A good first step would be to overhaul the financial system and regulate the banks, and then change the US foreign policy.
    Re your own political aspirations, I suggest you gain a bit more experience and in 4 years stand as Sarah Palin’s running mate. You have a lot in common; both from Alaska, have an interest in wild animals, and are strong on regulation. You could teach her to snowboard. Keep up your present tactics, plead other commitments and no real interest, and just wait for the tap on your shoulder. Good luck, Dad

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