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Contributor | By Nate Morris,
It was raining that morning.
Not a heavy rain, not drenching rain; a nuisance rain. It was the type of rain that fell just enough to make that air feel that gray, damp kind of cold. The kind of cold that makes it seem like the day is better spent asleep. But this day was different. This damp cold air was not sullen, it was electric. I stood outside in this buzzing air, waiting with anticipation with my student standing next to me. Today, inside the red brick building before us, he would cast the first vote of his life.
For nearly a decade, all he had known was a president who looked like him. Now he was standing in the rain before dawn to take part in making history, to shatter the glass ceiling that for so long seemed unbreakable, and to vote for the first female president in the history of the United States.
This next chapter of history, which seemed so steady, so certain, so predictable that morning, would quickly erode as the day drew to a close and an alternative version of history took its place.
A year has passed since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. In this year, the darkest parts of who we are as a nation were unapologetically brought into the light, watered and fed like a weed snaking its way through a garden.
Racism. Sexism. Xenophobia. Homophobia. Islamophobia. Nazism. All of these shameful parts of the fabric of our nation we have tried to hide are once again glorified.
We watch as the eight years of progress and restoration this nation experienced under President Obama are put in daily jeopardy, and the horrors of our history juxtapose themselves with our present.
We live in a time when hope seems difficult to come by and the majesty of our mountaintop seems distant and obscured by storm clouds.
It would be simple to stay here; to remain in this shroud of uncertainty – were it not for one small, common, powerful word:
“But” is the promise of intercession: “but God”.
“But” is the start of insurrection: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…”
“But” is the point of inspiration: “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
“But” is the word that pushes us forward.
We were defeated, but we marched by the millions.
We were told to sit down, but [nevertheless] we persisted.
We were faced with hate, but we fought back with fierce and brutal love.
One year ago, when 75 million registered voters chose to remain on the sidelines, this fight began and it has continued in the face of adversity and violence; unmoved by oppression and opposition. This fight has brought us to where we are today.
Ahead of us lies an unfamiliar and uncharted path up a mountain still shrouded in storm clouds.
The journey up this path will test us.
It will be long, and difficult, and exhausting.
We will become tired and long to turn back, but that is why we must be brave. Because with each step forward, we write a new piece of history that brings us closer to the mountaintop. With each bit of progress, we begin to make a way.
And so we must speak.
And we must write.
And we must march.
And we must vote.
And we must run for office.
And we must live and act with a fierce and brutal love.
We must do all of this, because now is the time that we chart the course for those coming long after us.
We do this so that one day a child will be able to begin their journey at the edge of the storm. The nuisance rain and damp, gray cold will be a sign that the summit is near.
And as they press onward, and the electric gray is transformed in the sunlight, they will stand on that mountaintop, in the place above the clouds, and breathe the air of a world that is new.
One year ago, we were reminded that “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.”
There is good in this world.
Go fight for it.
Nate Morris is a contributor to the Black Wall Street Times. Nate was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area and moved to Tulsa in 2012 after graduating from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. He received his Master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2015. Nate is a Teach for America alumnus and has worked in schools throughout the Tulsa area. He is an advocate for educational equity as well as racial and social justice throughout Tulsa and the nation as a whole.