Saturday, November 15, 2008
Corinne Reid-Owens, 96, says, 'Yes We Can'
Corinne Owens didn’t waste a moment when asked how she felt about Barack Obama being elected president.
“Wannn hear me scream, wanna hear me holler?” said the 96-year-old civil rights activist before the question was finished. “Yes we can! Yes we can!”
Ms. Owens said she stayed up late on election night to watch Obama victory speech. A wave of emotions washed over her, including her own slogan: “Together we can do it.”
“I was just so thrilled last night I could hardly sleep,” Ms. Owens said on Nov. 5. “Seeing supporters like this, white supporters cheering, it was just wonderful.”
She added that her phone had been ringing off the hook since the election.
“Friends are calling and crying,” Ms. Owens said. “We remember the times we’ve had, the hard times we’ve had. To think Dr. King came along, and now his dream is coming true.”
Owens also gave thanks to Obama’s grandmother Madelyn Dunham, who passed away the day before the election.
“Thanks to his deceased grandmother, who is white,” Ms. Owens said. “Thanks to his grandmother who gave him the training and stood by him. We must thank his parents for his success. They’re the ones who brought him here.”
Owens reflected on the changes she’s seen in her life. Growin up in the South, she saw racism of the worst kind. In 1946, she moved to Racine and didn’t fare much better – at first. But Owens organized the community and became a voice for civil rights justice in Racine and around the country.
“I’m just so grateful,” Owens said of her memories that led her to today.
But now she worries about Obama’s safety. “We need protection for this man,” she said. “This is something that’s never happened before, and I hope nothing comes up to endanger his life.”
And she hopes Obama’s election becomes the impetus for binding communities together across the country.
“If we stand together we can do it,” she said. “We’ve done a lot in Racine because of cooperation.”
Labels: Corrine Owens