This is the letter that I received from then Senator Barack Obama that was dated July 24th 2007. I finally got the letter in the mail at my great-grandma’s house that September. I decided to write the presidential candidates that summer to question their resilience & how they believed that America could be changed for the better. He was the only one to respond. Whether it was President Obama or a secretary is not what matters to me. The gold in this letter inspires me even more almost ten years later.
Thank you for your kind letter. Our country needs more young people like you who care about making a difference. Indeed, the future– with all its promises and obstacles– is yours, so it is your prerogative to make this a world you want to inhabit.
Learning how to deal with criticism is an important part of growing into an adult. Criticism — like failure — is not always avoidable. The true test is whether you let criticism harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it and choose to persevere. I welcome others’ criticism because it challenges my reasoning, sharpens my analysis of issues, and leads to new and better solutions.
One of my mentors was the late Paul Simon, a man of great ability and integrity. He believed that people could disagree without being disagreeable, and I have taken that guiding principle as my own.
The challenges that you’ll face during this century will be daunting and complex, and they will test your resolve, your intellect, and your courage. But know that you have it within your power to confront those challenges just as previous generations of Americans tackled their own set of problems and fears of their own era. If you’re willing to strive for something better, to work hard, to empathize with the concerns of others, to take great risks, and to persevere through trial — America will continue its journey toward a better day.
Seeing young people like you who care about making the world better inspires me and gives me great hope for the future of our country. Thank you for sharing the article with me, I can see that you did a wonderful job of critical reading. I wish you the best of luck as you go out into a world that’s counting on you.
I was a kid who didn’t mind asking the questions at whatever cost because we deserve the answers. Now, I am a grown woman who wanted to build & help find the answers.
I asked about the criticism that he received as a Black man whose race has been questioned, ‘determined’ and defined within the confines of our own ambiguity in America. I asked him what I can do to improve our conditions. His camp gave me an answer that has inspired me to confront the issues of grassroots communities right beside the people that are directly affected in order to arrive at the best solutions for our communities.
It’s our job to create that change. We can’t wait for it. This is what happens when we put others in charge of our destiny, especially those who never had our best interest or even our humanity at heart. We can’t let bigotry stop us in our tracks. We can’t let it define us.
We’re either going to let this shame us into inaction or we are going to push forward regardless, making as much noise and being as strategic as possible.
Let’s continue to build.
It’s not over.
It’s just the beginning.