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The State of OUR Union

By Guest Contributor Tammy Johnson, originally published at Colorlines

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January 27, 2010

Brothers, sisters and all of those in transition,

I come to you today not as your elected leader, but simply as a Black woman striving for justice, a single voice delivering a few words of caution and hope about the state of our union.

Some of you may think that we should reserve this moment for our duly elected President. The Constitution does suggest that from time to time the President should “recommend measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” And there should be an acute sense of urgency when it comes to our situation. With poverty and unemployment rising as quickly as wealth is falling in communities of color, it is critical that we hear President Obama’s plan and vision for our future.

But I say that the weight of this moment is too substantial to leave to one man, or to the gum-flapping of partisan spin doctors and Madison Avenue desk jockeys. The state of our union deserves a broader, more grounded assessment that includes the role we have played in nation building.

Let’s be honest. As a movement, we have engaged in a great deal of in-fighting between those propelled by the hope of the 2008 election and those deflated by the realities of the 2009 administration. Some trumpeted the signing of SCHIP while others raged at the lack of care for immigrants and women in the health insurance bill. The push and pull among us has gone far beyond a healthy dialectic that nurtures our work.

Many seem to have forgotten that what is most important is not the man, but the mission.
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