This guest blog post was written by Ramsey Jay Jr., Consortium fellow (Dartmouth, 2005) and a Wall Street-trained finance professional. He’s also the author of the book, Empowering Dreamers to Become Achievers.
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“We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything’s possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.” – President Barack Obama (State of The Union, Jan. 25, 2011)
As a child, I would imagine, and then record, myself speaking with leaders I admired (all alone in my bedroom!). In 2016, that dream became possible when I was honored to meet President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, before making opening remarks on behalf of the Ray Charles Foundation at the “Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at The White House” musical celebration (video excerpt below).
This will always be a cherished memory. However, the most consequential element of visiting the White House, meeting the First Family, and speaking from East Room stage was the tangible truth that emanated and will forever remain palpable for me. The truth is that with the realization of this dream I am eternally equipped to state on the record, “Through me, by way of my journey, you now have access to a blueprint which you may leverage to propel you to indeed be ‘Next.’”
That is the essence of “Empowering Dreamers To Become Achievers” and I am thankful to have had this catalyzing moment occur in the presence of the Commander in Chief, and for that I say thank you, Mr. President.
Jan. 19, 2017, marks the final full day of President Obama’s presidency. I commend President Obama for his exemplary service to our nation, his ability to instill an unwavering sense of confidence in the resilient spirit of Americans, and leadership through both trial and triumph.
As I reflect on the night of Nov. 4, 2008, with the election of (then Senator) Barack Obama to the presidency, I believe the United States cast a generational ballot which continues to translate into a myriad of transformative messages about the future of our democracy, two of which I will share briefly.
(1) Young People’s Currency For Good Is Invaluable: I think about the many young people who might have been equitably engaged, pre ‘08, who will now be unwavering activists in the political process, social discourse, and evolving economic paradigm. President Obama has further stirred my conscious to appreciate that while the prism through which they view their realities and prospects may differ, their collective impact for good is currency that cannot be underestimated, and further fortifies my charge to create, and deliver, dynamic programming which empowers them.
President Obama’s presidency galvanized and mobilized young people of all creeds and I hope can inspire us all to believe that such precocious talents can once again rise up for good again if we empower them.
(2) Human Bridges Thwart Divisiveness: A physical bridge allows one to traverse from one local to another. Utilizing President Obama as the manifestation of the “human bridge,” juxtaposed to the physical bridge, I believe we have been left a ready template upon which campaigns of unity can, and must, be crafted to triumph over fractions of divisiveness.
I concur that in the New Year of 2017, there are chords of discontent across the country, some of which are agitated with legitimate reason. Respectfully, I believe the canvas upon which the aforementioned template must be practiced requires me to be consistent and purposeful in “getting comfortable being uncomfortable,” while availing myself to financial/investment corporations, academic institutions, local/national government affiliates, faith-based organizations, etc.
I believe each of these entities possesses agendas with the potential to benefit “We the People,” if executed with counsel and expertise yielded by the elements of the human bridge I believe are able to resonate in each of us.
History provides a global reservoir of evidence that faith in the possibility is requisite to erect, or mend, bridges of disconnect or discontent. In that vein, I encourage you to join me in faithfully embracing the anything’s possible spirit henceforth in 2017. I believe President Obama’s final paragraph in his thank you letter to the nation captures the pulse of this spirit. Thank you, Mr. President.
“And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the People.’ ‘We shall overcome.’ Yes, we can.” – President Barack Obama (Thank You Letter To The Nation Jan. 19, 2017)
Pictured Above: Faye Davidson, Robert Davidson, Jr., Ramsey Jay Jr., First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, Valerie Ervin, Fred Booker, Suzanne Alpert, Stewart Alpert at The White House, 2016.