11/09/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Prize More Precious Than The Presidency

In case you hadn't noticed, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has already won.

I'm not talking about a debate, or even the election itself. Before a single vote has been counted, or cast for that matter, Obama has captured something that may be far more precious than even the American presidency.

Obama has won the attention of America's black youth.

In a nation where African-American children are subjected to countless images of themselves that are less than accurate and often far from honorable, Obama has lassoed the moon and the stars for black children and brought them back down to Earth--transforming the mythical possibilities of black achievement into tangible and reachable realities.

"If you put your mind to it, you can be anything you want to be, even President of the United States," my mother once told me. Through the years, I'm sure millions of African-American children have heard that or something like that from their parents or grandparents, often folks who were not afforded the luxury to fathom such heights.

Funny thing though, it's never happened. And until now, no African-American candidate has even been in position to make it happen. I imagine that fact has been a major stumbling block for African-American children who dared to dream so high. Some say, "If you believe it, you can achieve it." Well, how many black children can truly--and I mean deep down in their gut--believe that they can reach for such an achievement, if they can't see it?

A year ago, most people probably believed that we were still years, even decades, away from envisioning a black president in the White House.

But things are different now, and today's black youth are taking notice. A stroll through the hallways of my 11-year-old daughter's school revealed this to me.

She and her sixth-grade classmates were instructed to create "hero shields," collages of drawings and magazine clips displaying the students' heroes and thoughts on why they selected them. As you proceed down one of the school's hallways, where the hero shields are prominently displayed, a theme emerges. While there were pictures of LeBron James and other black athletes dunking basketballs and scoring touchdowns, there were far more images of Barack and Michelle Obama, one of my daughter's selections.

The young people who produced these shields may never have the opportunity to vote for an Obama presidency (unless Michelle decides to run for the office somewhere down the road), and these students probably couldn't tell you very much about Barack Obama's position on the nation's economic collapse, his stance on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how the candidate intends to break America's dependence on foreign oil.

But it's clear that they've noticed him--and that they've been inspired by him.

As one of the students wrote on his hero shield directly underneath an image of Obama, "the sky is the limit."

Indeed it is.