By Misbah Farooqi
When Barack Obama was elected president, he became more than just the first African American President; but rather a symbol of progress and hope. Promising to bring change to a disheartened public, President Obama represents a new generation of Americans who are determined to make this world their own.
I remember the moments leading up to his election in 2008. As an anxious fourth grader, I can recall the excitement in my parent’s voices when they learned of a young African American senator running for President. Joining in on their enthusiasm, I eagerly watched President Obama’s earliest debates with Senator John McCain, transfixed by the hope in his words and the forever catchy slogan: “Yes, we can.”
President Obama inspired me then, and continues to inspire me now. Over the years, we have seen him fight for what he believes in, whether it be equal rights or affordable healthcare for all. He has gracefully handled severe opposition and maneuvered around an uncooperative Congress. From the day he began his political career, he dealt with a slew of remarks about his race and his background, and has shown more decency than any other president that we have had when dealing with such backlash. President Obama is a role model, and although he is not perfect, he has displayed more poise than any other politician of our generation.
President Obama has inspired and mobilized a generation to come. A generation of blacks, whites, Latinos, Muslims, LGBT, and people of all different backgrounds. A generation of Americans. Time and time again, President Obama has stressed the importance of our country’s diversity and the importance of valuing people of all backgrounds. From his immigration reform efforts to pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage, President Obama has fought for the rights of those who have been marginalized and exemplifies the belief that our differences make us stronger. He has reminded us that no matter where you come from or what color you are, you can succeed as long as you work hard and work for positive change.
From his days as a community organizer in Chicago, President Obama has believed in the people and their power to initiate positive change. As he said in his farewell address, “If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing.” As citizens of the world, we are the ones making the real change and the ones with the power to influence the government. While those in leadership are the ones who make the decisions, the people are the ultimate deciders and give those in power the ability to do so. We are the ones who have the power to fight against bigotry, racism, and hatred in our communities. President Obama served his term, but now it is up to us to continue his legacy.
So, thank you, President Obama for inspiring a generation. Thank you for continuously standing up for our rights, and reminding us that at the end of the day, we are the ones with the power. I encourage all of you to remember President Obama’s struggles these next four years and beyond, and never stop fighting for what is right.