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Barack's Story

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It is a promise that we make to our children, that each of us can make what we want of our lives. It is this promise that has defined so many great Americans. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all those that came before me, that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible. And it does define him as well. My mother, she said to herself: My son is an American and he needs to understand what that means. His childhood was like any other, but it was his search for self that defined him. My father, I only met him once for a month, when I was ten. I probably was shaken more by his absence, than his presence. And what he learned is that by discovering his own story, he would come what is remarkable about his country. My grandparents, they grew up in Kansas, right in the center of the Heartland. They were growing up during the Great Depression. They weren’t complainers. They took life as it came. They knew that they had to work hard, even when difficult things happened. His grandfather fought in Paton’s army. His grandmother worked in a bomber assembly line. But it was his mother, who would see in him a promise, and understood what she needed to do. she would wake me up at 4:30 in morning, and we would sit there and go through my lessons. I used to complain and grumble, you can imagine. Six, seven-year-old kid, wake up at 4:30… If I grumbled she would say: Well, this is no picnic for me either Buster. The only time I ever saw my mother really angry, was when she saw cruelty, when she saw someone being bullied, or someone being treated differently because of who they where. When she saw me doing that, she would be furious. And she would say to me: Imagine standing in that person’s shoes. How would that make you feel? That simple idea I’m not sure I always understood when I was a kid, but it stayed with me. In Chicago he would find a calling. I loaded up all my belongings in this raggedy, old car, and I drove out to Chicago and didn’t know a soul at the time. There were factory closings, lost jobs, failing schools. And in the people he met he would find answers. Everyone was raving about this guy... She came off as very professional. I wasn’t sure if she’d have much of a sense of humor. I though “Barack Obama,” who names their kid Barack Obama? It’s one thing if your name was Barack Smith, or Barry Obama, but Barack Obama… that’s a killer That’s not going to work. In a month or two he was like… “We should go out on a date.” I thought: no. So he took me to this training that was going on in a church basement on the far south side of the city… Most of the folks on that basement where there because they had faced some point of hopelessness. We walk in and he takes off his suit jacket and launches into what I think is the most eloquent discussion about the world as it is and the world as it should be. And that was it... really after that day that was it. I was in love with him. I had a pile of student loans at the time, I’d just married Michelle, she had a pile of student loans. His classmates would field offers from big law firms on Wall Street, but he felt compelled to serve. I thought: he was crazy. You know, what did you do all this for? You read about some injustice and just say: “That’s not right, somebody should fix that.” You realize: nobody else is going to fix it if you don’t… The intent of this bill is to make sure that all wage workers are able to bring home a living wage. Tax cuts for workers, welfare to work, and health care for all those without it. You are unemployed, you have no health insurance, your kid is in a lousy school... That’s day-to-day stuff, that’s what people live on a day-to-day basis. Pieces of legislation that he carried, he believed in… He was not carrying it for a group, he was not carrying it for a lobbyist I remember the first trip I took in downstate Illinois, when I got down there, people where completely familiar to me, they where all like my grandparents. And in Washington he would remember why he was running and who he was fighting for. Energy independence. Fighting nuclear proliferation. Ethics reform. I watched him stand in the middle, where a lot of senior members of the Senate where saying: “Hey, go away, leave us alone,” but he wouldn’t. What I want is a family that is transmitting the values I inherited, the values that Michelle inherited to the next generation: Hard work, honesty, self-reliance, respect for other people, and a sense of empathy, kindness, faith. When my mom passed away it was one of the toughest moments of my life. We always has a small family, and she was…the beating hearth of that family. It was a reminder to me what that life is short, and you better cease the moment. One of my earliest memories… going with my grandfather to see some of the astronauts being brought back after a splash. Sitting on his shoulders, and waving the American flag. I remember my grandfather, who always has a big imagination. He was like a little boy himself. And my grandfather, would say: “We are Americans, we can do anything if we put our minds to it.” It is a promise we make to our children, that each of us can make what we want of our lives. It is a promise that his mother made to him, and that he would intend to keep. I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America. I don’t think we ever had a conversation about being a Senator or being president, it was always about trying to move people… In every generation we have an obligation to work on behalf of the next generation, we got to work to make their lives better, I know what it’s like not have a father in the house, to have a mother who’s trying to raise kids, work, and get her college education at the same time. It is that fundamental belief… I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, that makes this country work, I know what it’s like to watch grandparents age, whether their fixed incomes will be able to cover the bills... We got to transform the political culture, so it’s responsive to you and not the special interests, and not the fat cats, not the lobbyists, but is responsible to you… When I travel from town to town I see Americans going through the same things that my family went through. And I am reminded of what my mother always said: Imagine what it’s like being in somebody else’s shoes, one person’s struggle is all of our struggles. Recognize ourselves in each other, to make sure that opportunity is there, not just some people, but all of us... And that’s the country I believe in. That’s what’s worth fighting for…

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 6 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: OFA
Director: New Media
Views: 2,256
Posted by: rpena on Oct 8, 2008

Barack's biography: "A Mother's Promise."

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