On this 50th anniversary commemorating the 1963 March on Washington, I say thank you to those from generations both distant and recent on whose shoulders I stand. I hope that I have earned and continue to earn that for which you, as Americans, fought so hard and deserved so much. I thank my brothers and sisters of ALL stripes who demonstrated great courage, putting yourselves in harms way, during times much darker than many, today, can relate to. Many of your names are lost to history but I owe you to remember your effort, carry on the struggle, and remind the generation that looks to me that America’s greatness is only manifest through your contribution to its progress and strength. You remind me that America is not fixed in form but is ever changing and molded by more than 316,000,000 pairs of hands everyday. And so, I must try to be worthy of your effort by lending my hand to shaping the nation in a way that advances it toward the realization of its noble creed.
Thank you to my family. Many of you fought in America’s wars, were involved in America’s politics, educated America’s citizens, gave so generously to Americans who had less though you had so little yourselves, took care of America’s sick, protected Americans in time of need, and spoke out for peace and justice while often enduring injustice or indifference with an inner strength and dignity that I can only hope I would manifest. You were and are great Americans.
Finally, to you, mom, whose personal experience is part of the American experience, whose struggle I witnessed first hand, whose strength, courage, dignity and grace I could only hope to match, who encouraged me to think big, to have moral courage, to care about more than myself, who taught me where I came from and how I was connected to those who walked the path before me, whose expectations for me were high and who gave me strength to believe in myself, whose love for me was vast beyond comprehension, you are now, have always been, and shall forever be my greatest hero. You went through the struggle as an African American woman and I know that there were times when you were afraid, when you doubted yourself, when you wondered if you had the strength, when you didn’t know if we were gonna make it, yet you found the fortitude to protect us and forge ahead. Anything good that I have become is as a result of you exposing me to great places, great people, and great thinking. It is a debt that I can only repay by doing the same for your grandchildren and others with which life blesses me through acquaintance. I am proud of you and to be your son.