History and hope

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Little Stanford Samuels had had enough of Barack Obama. Couldn't they find something else to watch on TV, he asked his dad.

It was New Year's at the Samuels home in Miami, and Stanford, Sr., the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back, was watching the tube with his son.

Apparently, this particular nine-year-old had it up-to-here with Obamamania.

"They just kept on with Obama, kept on with Obama," Samuels was saying over the phone yesterday. "He got aggravated. He was like, 'Daddy, why do they keep putting on Obama? The election was months ago. It's over with.' So I had to give him a history lesson about the things the country's been through and how far we've come."

Today we see exactly how far.

Normally when you talk about football players being glued to the TV in January, it's for the Super Bowl.

But the Super Bowl happens every year.

Seeing a black man sworn in as U.S. president? Some thought it would never happen.

"It's a real historic event," Samuels said. "We have some issues down here we've been dealing with for a long time. This is huge."

Samuels isn't making the trip to the American capital for today's inauguration. He'll be glued to the tube, though, thinking about his African-American roots, including a great-grandmother who worked on a plantation.

"I've been around predominantly black neighbourhoods and a lot of my schools were predominantly black," Samuels said. "So that's (racism) not something I had to deal with.

"But seeing all the movies, hearing the stories, just having that constantly embedded in the back of your head, how things were and how things weren't going to change. A lot of my family is from Georgia. So those types of ideologies are still embedded."

That's why when Stanford IV got a little fed up with the whole Obama thing a few weeks back, it was time for a father-son chat.

"You tell him about slavery," Samuels explained. "How they separated families. How they separated people from their faith. Then you bring him forward."

To just a few decades ago, when blacks were still banished to the backs of buses.

"He plays football," Samuels said. "When they go on trips, the popular kids go to the back of the bus. I explained to him why the back of the bus was something we were trying to get away from for the longest time."

Over in Houston, Samuels' Bombers teammate last season, Anthony Malbrough, won't get too deep with his son, who's just six.

But he's just as anxious to see Obama raise his hand to take the presidential oath.

"Man, it's basically giving everyone a chance to dream bigger than they've been dreaming before," Malbrough said. "It's been so many years and so many obstacles for black people in general, and being able to see him do that, when you always thought that was impossible... this is something I can have for the rest of my life.

"My dreams are going to be bigger. My kids' dreams are going to be bigger. The whole thinking is different now."

Not just for African-Americans, either.

Obama is symbolic of the hopes of everyone who's not part of the white establishment.

"It does have a lot of meaning to us as Mexicans, too," Bomber linebacker Zeke Moreno said from San Diego. "Why not us? Why can't the next president be Mexican, or Latino for that matter? That just goes for anything. Why not carry it down to different avenues? Why can't a Mexican run this business, instead of a Caucasian?

"When you talk to kids and they want to be president... It's no longer just talk."

It's history in the making.

And it's amazing what a little history lesson did for a nine-year-old in Miami.

"Now," Samuels said of his son. "When a speech of Obama is coming on, his eyes are lit."


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