Today I have resonated with gratitude and peace – I’m grateful for Obama’s victory and the transformation that is being birthed in our midst. I feel peace as I look forward to the future, and, I feel peace because I believe my brother has made it to the other side.
I’ve thought of my deceased brother often throughout Obama’s campaign – there is nothing unusual in this – my brother has never been far from my mind and heart, throughout my adult life. He died tragically, violently, without preparation or warning. Wise spiritual teachers often point out that the spirits of those who die tragically sometimes have a difficult time crossing over. I’m told that a part of them sometimes remains here, unable to move forward, without recognition and understanding. I believe this has been true of my brother. In a sense, he has "haunted" me. Through the years I have sensed his presence in a fleeting or teasing sort of way. He has always been too quick for me. At times I’ve felt that I was truly on the verge of seeing him but he has always evaded me. I’ve especially felt his presence whenever I’ve encountered injustice and intolerance. I’ve often wondered if a gravesite visit, in which I speak in a loving and understanding way to him, would help to free him to make it to the other side. The simple truth of the matter is I would have happily visited my brother’s grave, I would have considered it a privilege and honor to seek to soothe his spirit and speak words of release to him, except for one important fact – I know my brother’s body is buried in this town that I live in but I don’t where his grave is, in fact, I don’t even know his name. I never knew my brother in life.
In the 1880’s, in the small Ohio town I live in, a young white woman was abducted from her home and raped. According to the local newspaper, she was unable to name the man responsible and she never recovered. A few neighbors reported that they had seen a local black man in the neighborhood that day. The police department promptly arrested my brother and incarcerated him in our city jail. Later that day, without recourse to legal counsel or a trial, a local group of white vigilantes broke into the jail and took my brother to the outskirts of our town where they lynched him from a tree. No one was charged or prosecuted. Against the reality of this horrible historical injustice, even today, no one in our town is sure of my brother’s name. We only know that his body, the body that God made, hung from a tree along the railroad tracks for three days and nights.
I think I saw my brother last night as I watched CNN"s coverage of Obama’s victory. I’m pretty sure I saw him dancing behind Reverend Bernice King as she spoke to Campbell Brown from Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. I’m almost certain I saw him skipping with Obama’s daughters out onto that platform stage in the park. It sure seemed like his hand rested, as a form of blessing on Barack and Michelle’s hands as they reached for one another. No one, will ever be able to convince me that I didn’t see my brother with his arms wrapped around Reverend Jesse Jackson as Jesse cried silently in that sacred park.
I will always be grateful for the hope, opportunity, and goodness that Barack Obama has brought to the United States of America. I am also forever grateful for the many Americans, white and black, who pulled the lever for Obama-Biden because they want to live in a new time, in a new age, with a new consciousness. Finally, I’m grateful because I sense the part of my brother who couldn’t cross over, has finally made it to the other side. It won’t matter now that I can’t find his grave because I know he is resting in the embrace of the God who knew him, named him and loved him, even before he was born. Yes we can.