Today would be Bob Marley's 64th birthday. I wonder how he would feel today to know that a black man is President of the United States, and that his song, "One Love" was used to celebrate his inauguration.
30 years after a biracial Jamaican reggae artist united a great deal of the world under the banner of peace unity and human right a biracial American united a great deal of the world with a similar messages. Bob Marley chastised corrupt politicians and war while uniting oppressed people. Both Marley and Obama would win the love of the black oppressed class who they represented and liberal white who would further their cause.
Bob Marley was born in 9 Miles, Jamaica in 1946. His father, Captain Norval Marley was an officer in the English Navy as well as a plantation overseer. His mother was an 18 year-old black woman by the name of Cedella Booker. Marley's parents would not stay together and his father would die when Marley was ten.
As a young man, Marley would move to Kingston, Jamaica, where a burgeoning music scene was developing. He would unite with local musicians like Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer. The trio would form the Wailers and record with some of Jamaica's top producers. Marley recorded several songs that represented the angst of the Jamaican underclass and the tensions between the haves and have-nots in Jamaica.
It wasn't until Bob Marley signed with Chris Blackwell's Island Records, that he would take his sound international. He positioned himself a Rebel singing songs that people all over the world could relate to. Songs like "I Shot The Sheriff", "Get Up Stand Up" and "Concrete Jungle" gave a voice to the largely ignored black underclass in Jamaica as well the rest of the world.
Bob Marley would sing songs of black pride and suffering but also of world unity of people from all races classes and cultures. Marley was able to do what MLK, Ghandi and Obama were able to do to, rally educated people of European backgrounds around their cause. The same populist underdog voice of the people against the establishment transcended from Marley's songs to Obama's speeches.
Both Obama and Marley had the ability to rally people of African descent under the banner of black pride and people of all other races under the banner of unity. Both became an ambassador for the poor to the mainstream society and government.
While Marley painted a dark picture of oppression, corruption and poverty, there was always an undying optimism in his voice. A sense that things would get better and that people could unite and end racism and classism.
Both Marley and Obama had the ability to be militant without being threatening. Obama's anti war stance and criticism of America's social system especially early in his campaign reflected the angst of the working and middle class in America. Still he was able to sweeten up his strong desire for change with calls of unity hope and progress and an all-inclusive America. Similarly, Marley managed to remain pro-black and pro poor while sweetening up his message with calls for love, peace and unity.
The millions of white Americans who grew up on Marley's music -- from the frat boys to the hippies to the millions of Americans who've heard his songs on the radio and own his Legend CD -- became the a crucial part of Obama's "post-racial" America.
Obama and Marley had the same bipartisan efforts to unite people. After Marley was shot, he united the heads of the warring parties at the historic One Love Peace concert in Jamaica.
Bob Marley was the voice of the third world, was still able to attract the attention of the European upper class, royalty and celebrities.
Time named Exodus Album of the Century and BBC named One Love song of the century. Today, Marley is admired by people of all races colors and creeds across the world.
I don't have prejudice against myself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners -- an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters.
It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts -- that out of many, we are truly one.