Most people who know me, know that I am not particularly sentimental. I don’t usually cry at weddings (except I sobbed through mine, hmmmm) and I can appreciate a touching story without shedding tears. So I was a bit taken aback by my reaction to a little children’s book this morning.
While walking through Target I spied the book “Change Has Come” drawings by Kadir Nelson, words by Barack Obama. It looked like a nice keepsake of the Obama presidency, the first new president in my boys’ lives, so I tossed it in my cart.
Back home, after the purchases were stashed, the baby was fed, the dishes done and the floor swept, I sat down and looked at the book. Wow! I was not prepared for such a strong reaction.
It is a simple book. The words are all taken from Obama’s speeches and the drawings are scratchy pen and ink. I think it was the simplicity that hooked me. Too much pomp would have turned me off.
I found the drawings particularly touching. Something about pen and ink was so right for this moment. Some people don’t like pen and ink because it is rough. They dislike that it feels hurried or more like a draft than a completed work. I like pen and ink for those exact reasons. It is like the artist wanted to get his impression down on paper before it floated away. Pen and ink is real, no editing, no polishing.
I know the words that were used in this book were probably chosen carefully and with much debate, but I’m okay with that. I have a pretty low tolerance for prose that try too hard. These hit the right note for me.
As I read this book, I began to tear up and by the final page I was openly weeping. I was so overwhelmed by the significance of Obama’s presidency, that I wanted to rush right to Huck’s school and share the book with him.
I wanted to explain to him what it means for America to have a black president. I wanted to tell him about our historical mistakes and triumphs. I wanted him to understand that the election of Barack Obama is a way for America to truly realize its potential. I wanted to tell him that America is now The Land of Opportunity for everyone. I wanted to tell him that change has come.
I will tell him all these things tonight after we read the book.
I urge you to buy this book for the children in your life, no matter what your politics are. Change is good, embrace it.