A new day dawns today in America as Barack Obama becomes the first African American president of the United States. This is a time for us to look ahead. But it is also a time for me to look back and to marvel at how far this man and this country have come in four short years. I distinctly remember the phone call in the spring of 2004 from my friend David Jacobson, who is very active in Democratic political circles and has been deeply involved in Obama’s Senate and Presidential campaigns. David told me that he was supporting “this promising young guy who was running for the Senate seat in Illinois”. The candidate’s name was Barack Obama, and David urged me to support him and raise money for his campaign. I was skeptical – what chances did this young, skinny, African American with a funny name have? And he was running third in his Democratic Senate primary at the time. But I was intrigued.
I first met Barack Obama at a small lunch organized by an Indian friend Balvinder Singh, a political organizer in the Asian Indian community. I was impressed. He was intense. He was charismatic. He listened. He spoke softly, but with passion and conviction. I immediately wrote a check for his primary, and we organized a fundraiser for him in our Evanston home. He connected instantly with the small crowd at our home, and we all were left with the feeling that this guy was going to go places. If only we knew how far! I joke with my friends that that fundraiser was the best pre-IPO investment I ever made – it was like making an angel investment in Google! Now that Barack Obama is on the national stage and will soon be in the White House, I watch and admire him at a distance. And I am proud to have played an infinitesimally small part in his incredible journey.