Saying “Thank You” can be a simple, yet powerful affirmation. And, Spelman College graduates Bejidé Davis and Amanda Washington Lockett want to shower President Barack Obama with thousands of “Thank Yous” on his last official day in the White House, Jan. 19, 2017, to celebrate his stellar service as the nation’s commander-in-chief.
“Before the results of the election, the idea was to stand in front the White house and clap. It’s a very simple idea but it would mean a lot,” said Amanda Washington Lockett, a higher education doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania.
President Obama congratulated Donald Trump on his election victory and invited him to the White House for a meeting Thursday, the White House said. (PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AP)
The event, “Thanks, Obama” was the brainchild of Davis, a corporate finance attorney in New York City. The political buff said the idea rose during a conversation with her older brother about the then-ongoing contest between Obama’s would-be successors.
“And I said no matter who gets elected, we’ll never get another Barack Obama,” Davis told the AFRO. “It’s a situation where you never know how good you had it until it’s over.”
Davis added that she wants Obama to be remembered as the great president he was.
“He’s charismatic. He’s been effective—he got a lot done despite obstruction from Congress. He’s shown that the impossible is possible—that’s what he stands for,” said the Emory University School of Law graduate.
Washington Lockett added of President Obama’s impact on her: “Booker T. Washington is my great-grandfather and he was the first African American to dine in the White House. So to be in a time where an African American man is commander-in-chief is awe-inspiring.”
And the president’s historical import goes even further.
“He broke the glass ceiling for many young people,” said Washington Lockett who was an elementary, middle and high school teacher for much of Obama’s presidency. “He ran on a platform of hope and he gave a lot of hope and empowerment to young people. That’s not only historical but also something we should applaud him for.”
Since Davis posted the idea on social media, the pair said they were surprised by the level of interest, which has ballooned since reality TV star and real estate mogul Donald Trump was elected the American president on Nov. 8.
“It meant a lot before but it means so much more now after the election…. It’s become a movement,” said Washington Lockett. She added, “The day after the results of the election we had about 10,000 more people who signed up and to now, about 20,000 more people signed.”
The event now has 40,000 persons committed to participating and over 110,000 who have shown interest. With the tidal wave of support, however, the women said they now have to look into securing a larger venue and sponsorship and addressing safety and permitting issues. They are also thinking about expanding from a simple ovation into a festival with additional activities.
Despite the challenge of pulling off this event during an already busy inauguration weekend in Washington, D.C., Davis said they are committed to ensuring the tribute happens.
“If this is given into the wrong hands, history will be written differently,” she said of President Obama’s legacy. “ I want it to go down in history that tens of thousands of people came and applauded him.”
Bejidé Davis and Amanda Washington Lockett may be contacted on Instagram and Twitter using the handle, @thanksobamateam. They also be reached on e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org