News and Tribune


January 28, 2013

CUMMINS: The American Dream is alive and well


There was another good student, who graduated from Princeton and then Harvard Law School. Michelle was raised on the south side of Chicago. Her ailing father worked at the city water works. She and her mother, father and brother, Craig, lived in a second-story, one-bedroom apartment. Michelle and Craig slept in the living room with a sheet strung between them for privacy. Her mother quit her job as a secretary to raise her children, believing that education was the key to, at least, a two-bedroom apartment. It worked. Both children learned to read at the age of 4 and both skipped the second grade. Craig received a scholarship to Princeton, and is currently the coach of the Oregon State University basketball team.

Michelle met her future husband when both African-Americans worked briefly for a nearly all-white Chicago law firm. After their first date, Michelle asked her brother Craig to arrange a pick-up basketball game with Barry to determine if he was a jerk. Craig did and reported Barry OK.

The two lawyers married in 1992, had two beautiful daughters, and 15 years later, Barack H. Obama was elected president, and the great-great granddaughter of a South Carolinian slave became the first lady. You seldom hear the president or the first lady give a talk without mentioning the importance of education. They know what unlocks the door to opportunity. 

After four years, the president raised enough money to run again. He had to fight the opposition, which had only one goal from day one, make him a one-term president. It was two packs of pit bulls fighting to the end, but the president prevailed.  

Whatever your political persuasion, ideology or passion, President Obama is our president for four more years. We can tear him down or work together for all young people out there of all political persuasions who have a dream. Just wait, you can be proud during the inauguration of Ms. Republican (Latino?) in a few short years.

There was something about the inauguration indicating the American dream is alive and well. There was an atmosphere, an aura or a kind of magical somberness and dignity that seemed to, despite biases, prejudice, intense partisanship and, how else state it, hatred, re-awaken a lost pride — or should have. If you are not proud to be an American, then I don’t know what you do.

— Contact Terry Cummins at 


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