In November, Sen. Barack Obama entered into history as the first African American to be elected president of the United States. Next Tuesday he will take the oath of office and become the 44th president of our country.

Like any politician, he made many promises. He promised change, he wants to overcome centuries of prejudice and even fulfill Martin Luther King’s dream: A man should not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

He promised that a “new dawn of American leadership is at hand.” Barack Obama was realistic when he told us: “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face.”

I will always be honest with you! What a promise!

A long time ago the author of 1984, George Orwell, wrote: “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness” (from “Politics and the English Language”).

George Orwell’s attack on the use of obfuscation by national leaders to hide unpleasant truths from the populace is a cynical and too often true picture of many leaders’ stance. That is what makes Barack Obama’s promises so powerful. You feel it comes from his heart. It is not political speech. He may not accomplish all his dreams and promises. He does not claim to be perfect, but the soul of America has been given a lift, a real change, an opportunity to breathe again.

It is well-documented that no new president has ever come into office with so much to deal with: an economic crisis, two huge foreign wars and the possibility of more if the wrong thing is said or done by some egoist.

“America, we are better than the last eight years.” the president-elect said. But he recognized we cannot walk alone. This is what the rest of the world has picked up on. Working with friends, talking to enemies, all to make a more sensible and peaceful world.

Next Tuesday, Jan. 20, history will be made as a black man ”a courageous, determined man ”will assume the highest office in the land. I can’t help but remember a Sunday night in a San Francisco church when the black pastor put his hand on a little black boy’s head, saying he could become president someday. That was 1962 and while I agreed with the statement, I really doubted in my heart I would live to see such a thing come to pass.

I don’t know what happened to that little boy, but he is of the generation of Barack Obama. I hope he has lived to see the “promised land” of this coming Tuesday.

Digging around, I found more history of Jan. 20. On that day in 1788, some 221 years ago, the Pioneer African Baptist Church was organized in the slave-holding city of Savannah, Ga. Change may be slow in coming, but with thanksgiving to God, it is coming.

Britt Towery is a resident of San Angelo, Texas. Read more of his work on the Web at

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