All Politics is Local and Pittsburgh is No Exception

With only two days remaining until the polls open I thought it would be nice to do a little sharing. I have been granted permission to republish an email message that showed up in my inbox yesterday from a young man I first met during the 2004 Kerry campaign and who has made his mark quite positively on Pittsburgh politics, Khari Mosley.

On Wednesday June 20th, 2007, I officially endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States. At the time I was impressed by his ability to break through the cynicism typically associated with politics. Today, I am awestruck not by the way Barack Obama has broken through the cynicism of politics, but the way he has inspired a generation of young Americans often associated with words like superficial, narcissistic and careless. Truly, the fervor that Senator Obama has tapped into among young professionals, college students, athletes and entertainers is quite remarkable. What I find even more moving is the enthusiasm he is generating among young African-Americans often associated with words such as thug, hopeless and lost. Barack Obama, in the course of his campaign, has re-discovered a so-called “lost” generation of inner-city youth who, through him, have re-discovered a sense of purpose in themselves and faith in this nation. My experiences with these young people over the past several months prompted me to write this final appeal to the American people, just four days before the national election, to ask you join me in voting for Barack Obama on November 4th.

“Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Obama could run, Obama is running so our children can fly! Fwd to 15 ppl Ensure Change.” – Text Message (Sent by 19 yr old single mother, McKeesport, PA)

I received that text message about 9pm on a friday night a few weeks ago. It was my “Aha Moment”, that something truly amazing was happening before my eyes. Suddenly I started to notice the young guys with the oversized baseball caps, low hanging pants and colorful sneakers wearing Barack Obama t-shirts. At the corner store or the club I found myself talking politics with people who never watched a political debate prior to September 26th. Soon I met an incredible group of young people doing voter registration, knocking on doors and making phone calls to get out the vote. This inspiring group of individuals includes: teen-age mothers, Job Corps students and the formerly incarcerated. Most will admit that this will be first election they will ever vote in. Many were not registered themselves until this month and never cared about politics until very recently. I have watched these young people transform from devout apathy to believing that they can truly make difference in their troubled communities. For the first time in many of their lives, they have hope and faith in their futures and are ready to serve a cause greater than themselves.

“Obama for mankind, we ready for damn change so y’all let man shine”! – Young Jeezy from the song “My President”

Over the last 10 to 20 years, many leaders have tried unsuccessfully to motivate young people from the inner city to overcome the many challenges they face. The vast majority of these appeals have fallen on deaf ears. Most young people have lost the reverence we once held for faith leaders, civic leaders and political leaders. If my generation ever had a leader it would have been Tupac Shakur, until now. Barack Obama has somehow inspired these young Americans and gained their confidence and respect. While the Al Sharpton’s, Jesse Jackson’s and Bill Cosby’s lectures have alienated our young people at times, Obama has found a way to embrace them and be a role model. Barack Obama is making it “cool” for our young people to be intellectual, articulate and poised. This is significant for a generation of young people who often view these qualities as negative traits. He is uniquely positioned to challenge our young people to be better parents, active citizens and future leaders. Senator Obama appears to be our best hope to help rescue these young people from the perils of poverty, crime and low expectations. I cannot imagine a more noble cause in these days and times.

Over the last two decades, inner city youth have been demonized, chastised and written off. To be fair, these young people bear just as much responsibility as their elders for the many challenges they face. At a time when our future as a country is in doubt, it is inspiring to see our young people rising above their own cynicism and hopelessness. Even more moving than that is the way our youth have embraced Senator Obama’s qualities and see their own potential for excellence through him. We have a unique opportunity to seize this moment in our country’s history. A vote for Senator Obama is a vote our young people who have been cast away and forgotten. It is a vote for excellence, intelligence and service. It is a vote for responsibility, respect and hope. It is a vote for lost generation that has been found.

– Khari Mosley is the Democratic Chairman of Pittsburgh’s 22nd Ward

One Response to “All Politics is Local and Pittsburgh is No Exception”

  1. In peoplepowergranny tonight I share the feeling I get when I see the young and old energized in the Obama campaign. I say that the torch is truly being passed from the sweat and tears from the older generation, the baby boomers, who fought for integration, affirmative action, etc. What will be your memory of this campaign, positive and negative?

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