On November 4th 2008, we held a mock presidential election in my third grade classroom. Students spoke their minds about the candidates, and I facilitated making sure all sides were heard. Secret ballots were cast, and Barack Obama won getting 18 out of 20 votes. John McCain and Cynthia McKinney split the remainder. Later that night of course history was made.
The students arrived the next day absolutely glowing. We talked about the historical significance of Obama’s victory, and they then imagined what it would be like to run for office themselves. Each student made a poster portraying him or herself as candidate and the issues they would address in the year 2048.
Obama's victory opened their minds to the possibility that they too could one day be commander in chief—or anything for that matter. What they needed to do was STAY IN SCHOOL and work very very hard. At no time were the children told by me they should look up to Obama. The fact that most did already reflects what they learned at home and amongst their peers, not by any indoctrination in the classroom.
We began to write the song after watching the Inauguration. Our school day is packed “bell to bell” with academics, but we’re usually able to spend the last five minutes of singing songs as short ELD (English Language Development) activities. Day by day we used this tiny window of time to brainstorm lyrics. As the song took shape, the children became more and more proud of their accomplishment. It soon morphed into a tribute to MLK and others honored for their work towards social justice.
By February the song was done. We got requests to come and perform from adjacent classrooms that heard it coming from our room at the end of the day. Their egos boomed. I decided to make it something they’d never forget by producing the video. Nobody forced the children to participate--in fact a few sat it out. When it was finished, they were hoping the President himself would see it and wanted to be able to show it to friends and relatives. We got the consent of parents as well as the administration, and put it online.
That's the story. We hope you like the song.
The Obama Song ("Proud American")
By Mr. B and the students of Room 8
Obama is the President!
First African America in history
44th president of the United States
The ground has shifted
The world has changed!
Oooo I’m a proud American
Oooo yes yes yes yes YES WE CAN!
Im going to study really hard just like Barack
Learning never ever stops
Gonna set my goals HIGH and graduate
You might be looking at the President of 2048!
We are a nation of a thousand colors, look at me
Our strength is our diversity
Walking hand in hand we sing
Each a day a little closer to the dream of Dr. King
(Exerpt from MLK's "I Have a Dream,” 1963)
Together we walk
Me and you
So so much work
Left to do.
G – C – G – D
G –C – G – D
D – C – G
D – C - G
Download a PDF of the lyrics at: