Dear President Obama:
As I sit here, the day after President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, the day after the last official day of your historically forbidden yet history-changing presidency, reflecting on the state of the Union, I am compelled to pen you this letter.
It is with mounting reverence that I articulate this expression of unwavering respect. Even though I did not agree with all of your policies, I respect the position of the office you held and the challenges confronting bipartisan politics. Although unsolicited, I believe it necessary to illuminate your never-anticipated, highly-ridiculed, awe-inspiring presidential legacy. As Dr. Freddie Haynes would say, “I am hyena happy, peacock proud, and elephant elated” for this opportunity to serve up an honorary summation of what is to become your ancestral and patriotic heritage.
Mr. President, I am so very proud of you. I also believe this to be true for many Americans. We are proud of you and the legacy you leave behind as you depart from the highest office in the land. Not only that, but you provided an undoubtedly unequivocal example of a lifestyle befitting a God-fearing man, although many questioned your Christian faith. You were elected twice to serve in the highest humanly possible position of power.
Opportunity to thank God
I breathe a liberated sigh of relief after eight years of weighted respiration, because you, a black man, became the president of the United States of America. I feared for your life daily while you were in office because of the known and unrecorded detriment inflicted on so many of our black heroes of the past whose lives were prematurely taken, namely, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. However, because of God’s unyielding grace and limitless mercy, he spared you, his child. Every minute of every day of every year became one more opportunity to thank God for a positive change for African-American history, as well as for American history.
When the historians and pontificators have their final say, I believe it will be understood without a shadow of a doubt, that you, Barack Hussein Obama, arguably are the single most remarkable black figure ever birthed on American soil, and that includes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tavis Smiley once said, “History is written backwards, while life is lived forward.”Some men read history, some men write history, but you, Barack Hussein Obama, you made history. Yes, you made history on Jan. 20, 2009, when you were sworn in as the 44th president of these yet-to-be United States of America.
As a young black man, on the day of your first inauguration, I witnessed something I never thought I would live to see. Mr. President, I do not stand alone in celebrating you, because on the day you were elected as president, it wasn’t just the black race that elected you, but the people of the United States of America elected you. The American people as a whole—whites, Hispanics, Asians, blacks and millions of people of all races, colors and creeds elected you. According to a recent poll, 62 percent of black America said the election of you, President Obama, was the most important event of their lifetime. Even the saints of the past celebrated you. You ask me how so, and how do I know?
Cloud of witnesses
The Bible and my baptized imagination took me back to that wonderful inaugural day. On that day, Mr. President, the Hebrew writers reminded me you were not only surrounded by the crowds in the street; you also were surrounded by that “great cloud of witnesses” in the sky. Yes, many of us on earth were proud, but not all. I just wish you could have seen what my spiritual eyes saw. You were so preoccupied with your inaugural speeches and taking the oath of office that you missed some things. There was a great cloud of witness in heaven who were so overjoyed and elated.
In that great cloud of witness were men and women who paved the way with their lives for those of us who have been kissed by nature’s sun. Rosa Parks was delighted she took her stand “not to get out of her seat” so you could one day occupy the highest seat of the free world. Even that dreamer and drum major for justice, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was excited his dream did not turn into a nightmare but became a living reality and to finally see this nation “rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.”
Yes, Mr. President, in that great cloud of witness were four little black girls, Denise McNair, Addie Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, whose lives were cut short by an American terroristic act, the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church of Birmingham, Ala. They were excited not just for you, but also for your two little girls. These four little black girls became martyrs so that your two little girls could now play hide-and-seek, hopscotch and 1, 2, 3 red light on the White House lawn, as well as the many social activities they experienced while living in the White House.
Mr. President, allow me to highlight part of your legacy that I believe you will be remembered for and will stand the test of time.
• You were the first African-American president of the United States of America.
• You served two terms successfully without any scandals, such as a stain on another woman’s dress, and you did not send our American troops on a hide-and-seek mission for weapons of mass destruction that did not even exist.
• Jolting the economy.
• Ending the war in Iraq.
• Obamacare, which provided health care for more than 20 million American people.
• Killing Osama bin Laden and other leading terrorists.
Mr. President, thank you for being such a great role model for the American people. Thank you for your intellectual prowess and brilliance. Thank you for your cool and classy persona that exuded every time you walked with that smooth and sophisticated strut.
Thank you for how you displayed love for your family and presented a biblical model for what a family should look like. Since Good Times, The Jeffersons and The Cosby Show, black America has been dying to see what a model black family looks like. Thank God the love affair you and Michelle Obama displayed before the American people was not a reality TV show but a real-life love affair for the world to see. Maybe the 45th President, Donald J. Trump, can learn from you and stop bragging and boasting about his sexual misconduct, such as tonguing and groping women just because he is powerful and privileged. Thank you for your moral ethics that led the way for a scandal-free White House over the last eight years.
Mr. President, I do not come before you on this day from the perspective of a Democrat, a Republican, nor as an Independent. Instead, I come as the Great Agitator who proclaims a great life-changing gospel. I come not as one who blows a flute, but one who blows a prophetic trumpet. Mr. President, with you leaving office, I see dark days ahead for the American people, because we have allowed politics, power, greed, bigotry and racism to remove God Almighty out of the way.
Mr. President, I am afraid that the moral compass of our country is headed in the wrong direction. I used to live by the audacity to hope and the motto, ‘Yes, We Can!” But after seeing over the last eight years racism, bigotry and hatred show up again like malignant cancer, I have resolved now I no longer can trust in a system that never was designed to help me.
Mr. President, now that you have departed the Oval Office, I have a message I want you to help me to get out to the American people and in particular, the church at large, which has allowed its spiritual salt to become contaminated and its spiritual light to be concealed by the wicked ways of the world.
Mr. President, what I am suggesting is a two-sided gospel approach:
• Side 1 is for spiritual transformation
• Side 2 is for social transformation
Mr. President, tell the people to:
Refocus their vision and see God.
Receive God’s grace.
Respond to the call of God.
This message is not original to me, but it was first given to Isaiah the prophet and can be found in Isaiah 6:1-8.
Mr. President, once again, thank you for your service and for a job extremely well-done. Take time to relax and enjoy your family as a full-time husband and father. However, it is my prayer that merely because your term of being Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America has come to a close, does not mean you will now become silent. You still have much to do. Your voice is still one that rings loud and clear. Mr. President, continue to use your voice to be an advocate for the American people. Speak up, speak out, and speak boldly to the cause for justice, equality and the pursuit of the American dream for all Americans.
Finally, all that you can do to assist and encourage our new president, Donald Trump, please do so, because you know all too well the challenges, stress and weight he has now undertaken as president of the United States of America!
A Prophetic Voice with a Cause
Dr. Dante D. Wright I
Dante Wright is pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church—known as the Pinnacle of Praise—in Round Rock.