Father and son share a historic moment | AspenTimes.com

Father and son share a historic moment

Donny Lumpkins

I’m 20 years old, and up until this week there have been only four moments in my life when an event seemed to change everything. In no particular order, they were the bombing of the World Trade Center on 9/11, moving from Sacramento to Boston when I was 4, the last episode of Friends, and the day I got a job. Some seem trivial, I know, but they seemed to mark big differences afterward.

My father was born in 1948, and I know his list of life-shaping events runs as long and as vibrant as the candles on his next birthday cake. He remembers things I can hardly imagine, like segregated water fountains, all-white beaches, students on freedom rides and sit-ins, uniformed police drenching black protesters with high-powered water hoses.

He remembers when Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was just that ” a dream ” something you had to be asleep to believe. He lived through the assassinations of peacemakers, ran with looters of local businesses during riots, smoked weed during the Summer of Love and served as the water boy during the golden age of the Boston Celtics.

My father isn’t proud of the fact that my mother’s parents pulled shotguns on him because they said he was “too dark” to date her. He saw the advent of television, the microwave, the ATM, the computer, the Internet and so much more. He watched the first steps made by men on the moon.

But now, my father and I share a new date to put in our folders of life-changing events: We’ve seen the first black man become an official nominee for president of the United States of America.

On June 3, I was at Urban Outfitters, looking through things I didn’t really need, when I got a call from my father. Usually, when my father calls me out of the blue when something bad has happened. So, when I saw “dad” pop-up on my little screen, my stomach dropped. But when I answered it, all my father said was: “He did it!” and I knew exactly what he meant.

Since the Iowa primary, my father and I have talked a lot about what it would mean for Barack Obama to win the Democratic nod. It was always a big “what if” in our rambling conversations, along the lines of, “What if the Celtics and Lakers end up in the finals?” “What if aliens lived under the Bay?” The idea that Obama might win the nomination seemed fantastic, too wonderful to be true.

But then it did happen: Obama secured the Democratic nomination, and millions of people around the world also felt this historical moment. In St. Paul, Minn., as Obama addressed the end of what seemed an endless primary season and the (perhaps temporary) destruction of the glass ceiling so many black politicians have come up against, he said, “Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another, a journey that will bring a new and better day to America.” Words like that can send chills down people with the most cynical of spines.

Don’t get me wrong; I know that just because he’s a step closer to the presidency doesn’t mean that racism has vanished in America. But today, I’m not worried about that. All I can think about is my father and how happy he was on his end of the phone. He has experienced some 60 years full of change and then backsliding on racial equality in this country. I’m sure there had to be times when he ” and a lot of other black people ” felt like giving up, like saying, “Maybe this is just how it has to be.”

But now we see that change is truly possible. From now on, when a little black kid stands up in class and says he or she wants to be president, it’s more than a pipe dream. Now, it feels like something that can really happen.

I’m glad my father and I got to share this moment. It means a lot to me that he sees new possibilities for me as a young black man. I can succeed in this world if I try hard enough. Barack Obama proved that to both of us.