While We Breathe We have Hope

Three years into my six-year sentence at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon, Barak Obama was elected President of the United States. I watched the election results and the acceptance speech sitting in a packed dayroom of my unit. The crowd was a cross-section of races, ages, and backgrounds. Together we watched as a father, a husband, a trustworthy leader promised change.

While We Breathe We have Hope

 

“While we breathe, we have hope…We can not turn back…Yes, we can.” 

We sat out of order: Black, Latino, White, Native American. Yes, we were inmates that broke the law but we were still Americans, hoping for change. A black woman sat next to me sat with her hands over her face, tears streaming down,  

“This is a new day. Never did I think, in my time,” she held up her hand, “Here is your beacon Lord, praise you, praise you.”

I looked over at the skin-head section. They were leaning over the short wall and glaring at the celebration. My heart was so full, I blessed them. Touch them, God. 

The officer on duty was a gay woman, near my age. She stood behind us in an official at-ease position for the cameras but did not hide the tears as they streamed down her cheeks. 

Barak Obama, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Cesar Chavez point the way for the next generation of leaders to guide us forward. Yes, we can. 

President Obama Acceptance Speech 2008

While We Breathe We have Hope

While We Breathe We have Hope