My Ancestors Have Arrived!


ZaDonna M. Slay
ZaDonna M. Slay

As I stood in the estimated 1.5 million mass on January 20, 2009, I thought about prominent figures from slavery to the present, and how they longed for the day an African-American would become President of the United States of America. Our race has gone from being uncounted, to three-fifths, to a valued citizen with an insurmountable host of struggles and achievements along the way.

When Rev. Rick Warren led us in the invocation, I experienced a chill of tranquility and assurance as I listened to AMERICA recite the Lord’s Prayer. Throughout the morning I absorbed the sights and sounds of people of all ethnicities, ages, religions, and backgrounds that embarked on a journey to the District of Columbia.

Arriving to the National Mall was about a two-mile walk from our Metro train stop. Walking down Independence Avenue, I thought about March 3, 1913, the date of the Women’s Suffrage March that my Sorority’s twenty-two founders marched in to advocate for the right to vote and to protest other social injustices. If it had not been for my founders and the other women that participated in the march down Pennsylvania Avenue, I may not have been able to vote in the historic election on November 4, 2008.

I traveled to Washington with my mother and younger sister to share in the experience that my grandparents and ancestors were unable to take part in during their lifetimes. They fought and dreamed for my reality. I stood in the National Mall on the shoulders of past generations, and as I witnessed the momentous occasion, I realized that we are celebrating more than the achievement of President Obama. We are commemorating a time in history when society openly accepts change to rebuild America, and a new generation taking the helm to make change possible.

I am truly excited to be a part of this change and able to tell my story to future generations of how an election created a movement. A movement that excited a younger generation, captured our attention, and kept us focused. This ultimately gives us hope to set and achieve high expectations.

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