Of Allen Lee



Watching wall to wall coverage of the Barack Obama inauguration on CNN, I nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw Allen Lee, one of my great chapter brothers from the mighty Gamma Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha (Spring 90), chilling on the Mall. Like millions of other, Allen and his wife braved the cold, (at one point standing in the same spot for 8 hours) to watch Obama make history. Here, is part of his story.
Jan. 20, 2009 

Ninety-One years old with less than a 3rd grade education, but smarter than I’ll ever be because of the wealth of experience they have. I asked them, “Grandma, Granddaddy what do you think about this Historical event?” They paused and shared so many stories of what it was and how much better it is and even how much better it will be.” They taught us and all of their many, many grandchildren to love everyone. Love is powerful and love heals all things!

I moved on to the next generation and talked to the original Allen Lee. From growing up in the Cotton Fields of NC to retiring after 40yrs at IBM with an amazingly successful career…”Dad, what do you think about this historical event?” He clutched his hands and bit his lip like he does when the emotion is overwhelming and he said, “I am happy because it is a clear sign that a new day exists.”

And finally, I stood in the one small spot on the National Mall in Washington, DCfor 8+ hours without moving to even go to the bathroom. It was 9 degrees with the wind chill factor and yet I was so warm inside. And I asked myself, “What do you think about this historical event?” I said to myself, “Finally, what I know I’m capable of so will others as they now have a visible and credible reference point.” I always knew that I was capable of great things, but the doubt of others was a very heavy weight to bear. The battle to achieve greatness will always be tough, but the lack of a reference point will never be again.

Although amazed and moved by the weight of this historical event and yet the timing (the day after Martin Luther King‘s Bday), my hope is the positive energy that we all felt today will move this country to a new place. 

And to him, born of me – my son…Master Allen Bryson Lee. 

You will never know the world as I once did. I never knew the world as my father did and we will never know the world as my Granddaddy did. What you will know, is it is up to you. You have no excuse! Greatness is expected of you and that is my command.

My father shared this poem with me and I look forward to the day I share it with you. I find myself quoting this in my head during tough times:


Out of the night that covers me, 
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years 
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate; 
I am the captain of my soul.

Allen Lee and his wife, Michelle, at the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Allen Lee and his wife, Michelle, at the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Allen Lee


Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 8:13 am  Leave a Comment  

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