Seventy-five mornings ago when America woke to word that a new day had dawned, many had hardly slept.
How could they?
And miss this?
And go to bed without soaking in a moment once so inconceivable that folks with tears in their eyes were reveling, impromptu, in the darkness of downtown Macon at midnight on a Tuesday?
Maybe you sensed it.
Or more than sensed it.
Perhaps the moment meant so much that you embraced its promise the way sunrise wraps itself around the night.
Maybe you voted for the other guy.
Even so, maybe you could appreciate why so many hearts were dancing. That here a day had come when it was official now. A man of color, a black man, was going to realize the dreams of so many. A dream that would become a reality in 75 short mornings from then.
A morning that now lies two days hence. A morning when hundreds of thousands — millions even — will be so compelled to make a pilgrimage to the nation’s capital just to be under the same sky where that new president is being sworn in.
They want to breathe in the change.
Political campaigns have long been declarers of change.
This time, change hauls with it the faces and minds that some 4 million sets of legs will carry as they stand on Washington while Barack Obama takes the oath of the highest office in the land.
This time, it rings of the change the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of when, in 1963, his words charged forth on America’s front lawn and urged the masses to “go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.”
For the throngs drawn to D.C. this week, Tuesday will forever be the day this 232-year-old country changed.
Tour buses loaded with onlookers already are rolling to usher in the Obama era.
This evening at dusk, one of those buses will head north and east into the night from Fort Valley State University.
Jarrett Proctor, a 21 year-old from Columbus with designs on becoming a school superintendent, will be on board.
Proctor, the college’s student-government vice president, figures he and his 50 or so fellow travelers are embarking on a journey that approaches the spiritual.
It will be, he says, like “all of America coming together” a mile at a time.
“All the buses we see on the road, going in that direction, you’ll almost know where they’re going,” Proctor says. “Just to know that people from all over the nation, from all different kinds of ethnic backgrounds and cultures are coming. It’ll be showing that we are becoming a stronger nation.”
Shanoria Morgan, another of the D.C.-bound bus riders from the school, is going with an explorer’s eye. She wants to see for herself the state of this union. She will let Tuesday wash over her.
“Every moment,” she says. “The sounds of the horns and the traffic. The spirit that I hope will be in the air.”
Morgan, a Canadian-born marketing major whose family settled in Houston County, is the reigning Miss Fort Valley State. Her duties include speaking to high-schoolers, middle-schoolers and church congregations.
She often talks of change.
“One of the quotes I mention is that ‘we must be the change we wish to see in the world,’” Morgan, 21, says. “People always complain. But are you doing what you want other people to see? Are you setting the example?”
Hers are questions that Washington’s presidential pilgrims may well take home “to Mississippi ... to Alabama ... to South Carolina ... to Georgia.”
“Will we really change?” Morgan wonders.
“We’re supposed to be about change, right? So will we really? Or will we just get dressed up for the occasion?”