On the eve of the American election in 2008, I went down to DC and met up with my American friend, Melissa Steele, to volunteer for Obama in the fading days of his campaign. I was very fortunate to be at the Washington Post party the night Obama won. I will never forget the scene after the CNN commentators announced that Obama took Virginia, and was in effect the President of the United States of America. There was a surge of people to get urgently out of the building, and we all spilled out into the streets. There, people were laughing and dancing and crying. We walked past a grocery store, where the employees were jumping up and down and knocking on the windows, eager to join the fray of the celebration.
I’ve watched Obama over the years struggle as President with the bureaucracy, politics and infighting in the government. But although I don’t agree in all his decisions, I still believe in him and his message of change. I also believe that he is one of the greatest storytellers ever. He has this amazing talent to connect authentically with his audience through his words and actions. I continue to be awed by his rare skill.
Yesterday, I watched the video of Obama delivering the eulogy at the funeral of Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney in Charleston, South Carolina. Towards the end, he stops and hesitates. Then he slowly starts singing Amazing Grace. This simple act brought me to tears. I thought of of the people who died in the church, and the state of America regarding guns and race and hate, and it filled me with great sorrow.
Obama’s gentle gesture was to step outside his carefully prepared speaking notes to connect with his audience, and to reach out to them in the universal language of music. It was beautiful and spontaneous. I dearly hope that after he’s done his presidency he will have the freedom to return to inspiring and motivating people, through hope and belief, in changing this messed up beautiful world.