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  • Leah Weiss, Contributing Writer

What Happens After November 3rd

I find myself listening to the same song on Spotify these days. For some unexplainable reason, I feel drawn to Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” Whether it’s the soothing sounds of Cooke’s soulful voice or the steady rhythm with the classic trumpet interlude, I’ve been listening to the song quite a bit. Perhaps I like listening to it because of the meaningful message the lyrics carry, though.

I run through my neighborhood in the mornings before school. It’s a quick two-mile loop, but throughout the run, I can’t seem to get Cooke’s song out of my head. I run up the first hill, leaving behind my house with its yard signs proudly on display and before I know it, I’m rounding the corner and making my turn where my eyes are undoubtedly drawn to the signs adorning my neighbors’ lawns. Cooke reminds me as I pass them that “It’s been a long, long time coming but I know a change gonna come.”

I feel like I’ve been fighting a battle for the last 4 years. I watch depressing news story after depressing news story pile up on my feed. I may not agree with the current administration, but I cannot deny the flair of the last 4 years. I also can’t deny the feeling deep down in my gut that reminds me of the anxiety and fear I live with. I run past the signs as Cooke encompasses my feelings with his words, “It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die...'Cause I don't know what's up there, beyond the sky.”

I make my way down the long, straight stretch of the street I’ve labeled “Sprint Street” because I start to pick up my pace. Once I make my next turn, I slow down, hoping to catch my breath a little bit without stopping. I run for a while, simply listening to the music and observing the houses as I pass them. I’m coming into the home stretch as I run up the steep hill, knowing that I’m almost home and this hill I climb is the last hill I face, and I’m tired. I’m tired from running; I’m tired of facing an uphill battle and not knowing what’s going to be on the other side. Cooke thought so too. “There have been times that I thought I couldn't last for long...but now I think I'm able to carry on.”

November 3rd possesses a tone of finality, quality of completion, but my fight is far from over. Sam Cooke fought for civil rights in the 60s, hoping to bring a change to a society he believed was unjust. His song heralded as an anthem for protests everywhere boosts my spirits when I feel defeated. Sam Cooke never saw the results of the Civil Rights Movement as he was unfortunately killed in 1964. I may not see an end to what I fight for, but that doesn’t mean I give up the fight.

Cooke’s song does more than keep me company when I run; it reminds me that I am not alone. The world is on fire, children are starving, and our society is fragmented, but it will be okay. November 3rd, regardless of the outcome, isn’t the end all be all for me. My passion does not end with an electoral victory and neither should yours. You are not defined by the character of a nation, but rather, you define the character of a nation. Your fire may continue to burn and November 3rd will not end that. We will be okay because people everywhere will continue to stand beside us, locked in step, as we reach for a better future for us all. That future may come with Donald Trump as President or it may come with Joe Biden as President, but regardless, we the people will set the tone.

I arrive home as the sun just starts to rise. The sky turns from its dark gray to a lighter orange. The cars from my neighbors’ houses begin to hum to life as parents drive their kids off to school. I head inside and I see my Dad, sitting at the kitchen table, munching on cereal as he reads the newspaper. “What happens after November 3rd?” I ask him. The question is a sudden, provocative remark for the first thing one says to their parents in the morning.

He puts down the paper and smiles. “November 4th. No, really. We move forward. If you wake up on November 4th and things aren’t different, keep moving forward. If you wake up on November 4th and things come out just like you want them to, you keep moving forward. There will be a November 4th and a November 5th and we will be the change we want to see in the world.” I take off my shoes and at that moment, I hear Sam Cooke’s echo in the back of my mind: “I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.”

So take a listen to Sam Cooke and take a deep breath. Keep moving forward. It will be okay. You aren’t alone. We’ll get there even if we take it a step at a time. No one said journeys are easy, but often, they’re worth the trip.


Sam Cooke- A Change Is Gonna Come

I was born by the river in a little tent

Oh and just like the river I've been running ev'r since

It's been a long time, a long time coming

But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die

'Cause I don't know what's up there, beyond the sky

It's been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown

Somebody keep tellin' me don't hang around

It's been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother

And I say brother help me please

But he winds up knockin' me

Back down on my knees, oh

There have been times that I thought I couldn't last for long

But now I think I'm able to carry on

It's been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

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