While on the road stumping for President Obama, Dwyane Wade found time to write JET an exclusive letter about why he believes in our president has what it takes to lead us for another four years.
When 5-year-old Jacob Philadelphia was given the opportunity to ask President Obama a question three years ago, few could have imagined the legacy that single moment would leave for generations of black Americans.
“I want to know if my hair is just like yours.”
“Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?”
It was a simple gesture – a president bowing at the waist so a 5-year-old boy could touch his hair – but the sense of possibility it inspired must have been truly powerful. This photograph serves as a reminder and a testament to families and young children that if we work hard and play by the rules, anything is possible.
The belief that hard work pays off has shaped my whole life. Growing up poor on the Southside of Chicago, I had a lot of tough breaks. Apart from my older sister, Tragil, I didn’t have very many strong role models in my life. Ultimately and despite the odds, I never lost sight of my own potential and I persevered. Today I am a two-time NBA Champion shooting guard for the Miami HEAT, an Olympic gold medalist, an active member of my community, and recently penned my first book A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball. Most importantly, however, I am a father to my two sons, Zaire and Zion as well as my nephew Dahveon
As a father, I try to instill in my children the full knowledge of their own endless potential and unlimited possibility. I can imagine the sense of possibilities that Jacob’s father, Carleton Philadelphia, must have felt as he watched his son’s eyes light up in the realization that with hard work and determination, he too could be president. I see this same pride in the fathers I work with through President Obama’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative, which strives to make fatherhood a priority for everyone in our communities. For the first time in American history, we can raise children for whom no dream is too big. For that reason, this photograph speaks to me as a father and as an American. President Obama and the vision he represents is what I envision for my sons and for the country they will inherit.
Over the last four years, I have been continually inspired and reassured by the President’s unfaltering commitment to improving the lives of all Americans. He passed historic health reform, making health insurance affordable and accessible to millions. He made substantial improvements in education that reflect his commitment to empowering our future leaders. He brought the economy back from the brink and we’ve seen 30 straight months of private sector job growth. But our work is not done. Though we’ve come a long way, there is still much left to do, not only for us, but for our sons and daughters across the country who will now have permission to dream bigger dreams.
November 4th, 2008 marked the beginning of a new era for us as African – Americans – an era in which Zaire, Zion, Dahveon and Jacob Philadelphia really can believe that anything is possible. President Obama doesn’t merely look like them; he works tirelessly on their behalf so that they will inherit a country in which opportunities are abundant and hard work is rewarded. President Obama inspires me to be a better father, he inspires me to invest in my community, and on November 6th, 2012, he will inspire me to get out and vote.
While this election is about continuing the progress we’ve made over the last four years, for parents, it’s about our children and the futures they now think are possible for themselves and for our community. The work is not done and we must continue to move forward, for us and for them. Next Tuesday, let’s join together to reaffirm this vision for our children’s future by sending President Obama back to the White House. Zaire, Zion, Dahveon and Jacob Philadelphia aren’t old enough to vote yet, so they’re counting on us to make the difference. We can’t afford to let them down.
—by Dwyane Wade