I don't think I'll ever be able to find the words to accurately express how I feel about you and your family. Or how appreciative and how grateful I am to have been alive during your presidency. I'm glad that I was able to witness you run this racist, twisted country with such dignity. You are proof that representation matters.
I was 13-years-old, a few months away from entering my freshman year of high school when you first announced your candidacy for the highest office in the land. I had no clue how politics worked, but your nomination sparked my interest in the matter. I remember the excitement and the determination of our people to get you into that office. I remember spending my Fall Saturdays campaigning, walking from door to door with my school's Black Student Union.
The 2008 election was just like any other election. We bought t-shirts, put the picket signs in our front yard, and I put the magnet on my mom's car. I had been through three presidential elections (I only remembered two), but I knew something about this time was different.
You always remember certain days in history. People remember where they were when they heard JFK was assassinated. You remember where you were and what you were doing on 9/11. Much like those days, I remember November 4, 2008, vividly. I remember what I was wearing. I remember going with my mom to the polls so I could get a "I Voted" sticker. I even remember the weather. I lived in Michigan, and the typical November weather reports are filled with snow and negative temperatures, but this particular day, it was no less than 50 degrees and sunny. Eight hours and 365 Electoral College votes later, I witnessed you change history. You became the first Black President of the United States of America. I remember thinking, "I wonder what is going on through his head right now?" I still can only imagine.
A few weeks after your historic win, I entered and won an essay contest answering the prompt, "Why is the inauguration of Barack Obama significant to you?" The prize? An all-expense paid trip to the Inauguration. Being on Capitol Hill with more than 1.8 million people that day was something I will never forget. It was everything our ancestors dreamed of and I got to witness it in person. It wasn't until much later, as young adult dealing with racism, sexism, and countless other hardships that I would truly understand what that moment meant to me.
Over the years, I was able to witness so much more than your inauguration. I watched your hair turn grey from the stress. I've watched you be an amazing father to your daughters. I've watched you love, and adore your wife so much it brings you (and me) to tears. I got to watch you crack dad jokes and stop babies from crying. I got to watch you be so much more than just the president.
The American Dream is defined as "the idea that every US citizen should have the equal opportunity to achieve success through hard work and determination." But it should really read, "The idea that every US citizen should have the equal opportunity to achieve success through hard work and determination. But if you're Black or another minority you'll have to work two times harder than your white, mediocre counterparts." I believe you are the epitome of the "American Dream". You worked so hard, not only to become president, but to be a president of value, but for some it was never good enough.
There were so many times I wanted you to respond to the negative and horrible things people said about you. There were so many times I wanted you to stoop down to their level and put them in their place. The way they belittled, bullied, and critiqued not only you, but your entire family, I'm honestly shocked you didn't react. You faced such horrible challenges, many of which we'll never know, and still you never once succumbed to those that wanted to see you fail. As the brilliant First Lady said, "when they go low, we go high." You and your family uphold a standard of excellence and you have led by example. Your wife, Michelle, is so eloquent, poised, down to Earth, and intelligent; she is someone I aspire to be like. Sasha and Malia are the definition of "care-free Black girls". You all handled adversity and ignorance with such grace and maturity that I can only hope to have and teach my children one day.
You may not ever know what you and your presidency means to so many people. I will never take for granted that you were my president during such a significant time in my life. Knowing that someone compassionate, decent, and humble was living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the midst of the most influential and formative years of my life made me feel secure. I didn't have to worry about my HBCU losing funding or if the people I love would have health care.
I cannot let what happened on November 8, 2016 overshadow who you are, what you mean, and what you did for this country. You turned "hope" into a reality that so many thought they'd never see. You are the definite, tangible proof that I can do whatever I put my mind to. And while those that made having a Black president so out of reach in the first place may try to discredit you, you can rest assured knowing that your legacy will never die.
I could go on and on, so for all you've done I say, "thank you". For the little boy who asked if your hair was like his. For the victims of 9/11 that finally received some form of justice or closure. For the millions of Americans whose lives were saved because you fought to give them health care they could afford. For all the little Black children who finally believed they could achieve anything. For the way you love and adore your wife. For being an amazing father. For setting an example. For being you.
From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely thank you for your incredible service to this country. You've done so much more than you can ever know.
You will always be the first person I voted for.
You will always be the greatest president there ever was and will ever be.
And you will always be my president.
A million "thank you's" will never be enough, so I'll close by simply saying job well done, Mr. President.