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The end of an era is approaching. Our nation’s first African American president will be leaving the White House in a few short months. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whether you agree with his views or not, we must acknowledge the fact that his presidency was a historical milestone and a leap forward in terms of equality for all races.

In Michelle Obama’s speech that she recently gave at the Democratic National Convention, she said “I wake up everyday in a house that was build by slaves and I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

This truly illustrates the fact that our country has grown tremendously and the wounds that have existed for hundreds of years were truly healing these past eight years. The idea of a united nation where people were not defined by race seemed so real in 2008, when the nation was energized by a young, vibrant presidential candidate.

Michelle and Barack Obama have made me so proud these last eight years. Time and time again they have had hate and bigotry spewed at them. Barack has had people question is religion, his citizenship, and his family. He never once showed anger or became bitter. He never once fought back with the same amount of hatred. Instead he held his head high and focused on the work.

What has perplexed me these past few months is that Republicans seem to think that they have a monopoly on the American Dream and patriotism. They are spreading an ugly rumor that Democrats are un-American.

America is truly the land of opportunity and the Obama family represents the power of the American dream. They never had anything handed to them. Instead they worked hard and had the bravery to believe in the power of their dreams. Donald Trump doesn't know the value of perseverance and can't empathize with people who come to this country simply because they want a better life. He has never had to struggle. He had never had to work tirelessly to prove his self worth, because his self-worth was instilled within him the moment he was born. Barack Obama grew up a mixed race child who was raised by his mother and his grandparents. Donald Trump was born into wealth with a silver spoon in his mouth. He doesn’t understand what it truly means to want something that seems out of reach.

As a nation is seems as though we are taking one giant step backwards. When Obama was elected for his first term other nations saw us as a modern, accepting society that was ripe with opportunity. I remember watching Obama’s first inauguration on TV and seeing strangers hugging each other in the streets of Washington D.C. and black and white people leaning on each other.

Barack and Michelle, I know that you have people who drag your name through the mud and show you nothing but utter disrespect and bigotry, but you also have people who have been incredibly inspired by you. People like me.

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Jillian James is the Opinions Editor of the Central Florida Future. She can be reached at jillianj@centralfloridafuture.com

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