Hope in American History: Driving Progress and Shaping a Brighter Future

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Updated: Sep 04, 2023
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The Essence of Hope

Hope is a very broad term that we all hold close to our hearts in some shape or form. Whether it be those hopes we carry in longshot dreams of childhood or hopes for a better future when weathering a difficult storm of tough times in life. Most noticeably for myself, I’m shining a light on the term “Hope” in detail because of its meaning in accordance with how I live my life. “Hope” to me is having the passion and faith to prosper toward great things in life, even with the odds against you.

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Growing up in the situation in which I did, hope was an extremely strong force within my thought process to succeed growing up. However, I lacked that physical motivator that I could see in the world as someone whose tracks I could follow.

Hope Through Role Models: Barack Obama’s Influence

That would soon change. I remember being in the fourth grade and all my friends talking about how they’d heard America was going to get a black president, and in that moment, I felt out of the loop. I had to find out who this guy was that everyone was saying was going to make history. During the Presidential race of 2007, I was first introduced to Barack Obama, who’d been running to become the first African-American President of the United States. In those days, weeks, and months leading up to that election, I’d gone to see Obama more and more, giving speeches, interviews, commercials, and merchandise.

Hope in American History: Immigrant Dreams and Struggles

Around this time, I sensed the feeling of a mental switch happening in my community. We’d felt that we had found our guy, willing to stand on the front lines of change and pioneer to be something not many kids around me or even before I dreamed of doing. The first real appeal to that sense of hope for me was a speech Obama had given during his campaign in which he delivered the historic line that would also become his campaign slogan, stating short and simple, “Yes, We Can!” He’d talked about how we can spark change, we can chase and achieve dreams against insurmountable odds, and we can be the great country we are in unity with one another.

With the way I discovered my sense of “Hope” through a revolutionary role model accounted for, I’d like to let it be shown on record there are numerous ways to develop that internal feeling in your life. There are a handful of examples of what that faith that builds within us truly means to us and what it stems from in life. A great example of that hope we develop is that of “striving for greener pastures in life from tough situations. The sense of “Hope” in American history is arguably most strongly documented in that of immigrants moving to the United States in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Many of these immigrants were even willing to risk further hardships in the short-term sense when having to first be located at “Angel Island” prior to being allowed into the country, and contradictory to the island’s name, it was anything but pleasant.

In Ryuta Idachi’s journal article summarizing the hardships of the island and its American and Chinese historical context by authors Erika Lee and Judy Yung entitled, “Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America,” he goes into great detail about the author’s extraordinary interpretation of the hop displayed by the immigrants to hold strong in difficult situations and unfair treatments, as well as the exclusion efforts experienced by a multitude of immigrants from eighty different countries who pushed through with a glimmer of hope remaining to reach their “American Dream .” This was greatly exhibited within Adachi’s quote, “The personal accounts highlighted in each chapter are clearly the strength of this book.

The authors undoubtedly made painstaking efforts to sort through and uncover the most diverse perspectives. For a narrative that easily could have been weighed down by numbing statistics, these accounts spanning the wide range of those detained and working on Angel Island play a crucial role in re-imaging the face of twentieth-century American immigration.” This tells basically how the “hope” of immigrants has shaped American society to this day.

Prominent Figures Embodying Hope: From Sports to Cinema

A famous case of Immigrating for a Better Future is that of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who emigrated from Austria to the United States to follow his dreams of bodybuilding as well as becoming an actor. The prideful feeling of hope pushed him to do something so extraordinary the people of his hometown laughed at how blasphemous his dreams sounded. But Arnold kept that hope strong, eventually achieving those dreams. Besides winning several bodybuilding championships in America, he also became the lead actor in the successful franchise “The Terminator” and later served as the 38th Governor of California.

That thought of Blasphemy and criticism surrounding the big dreams Arnold had also struck a similar chord in the backstory of another famous individual, more so striking a chord with a background more in tune with that of my own culture. That being of NBA Hall of Famer Isiah “Zeke” Thomas. Isiah channeled his “Hope” to make it out of the hood in Chicago and provide for his mother, overcoming the tough circumstances so many African-American men have fallen victim to, especially in his time growing up in a rough area of Chicago.

“Zeke” grew up learning on a “Do what’s right and not what you see” mindset, mainly from his two older brothers who’d overdosed on drugs, telling him never to do them. Despite all the pressures of his environment, the constant reminder of his loyalty and faith to find a greater, prosperous life lies within that of the game of basketball for Isiah, not only for himself but for his mother and siblings as well. During High School, Isiah would wake up every day at 5:00 AM to go across town to a private school to train in basketball and get a better education.

This would soon pay off, as he earned a scholarship to the University of Indiana. Then, after his sophomore year at Indiana, Thomas had been chosen 2nd overall in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, the team in which he’d notched great praise in a Hall of Fame career. “Hope” is a term I view with significant importance to all cultures around the world because of the fact we all value this in different perspectives and aspects of our lives. Mainly that of the desire and determination for betterment to which we can all strive to make this world and all its people better physically and mentally.


  1. Adachi, Dean Ryuta. ‘Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America.’ Journal of American
  2. History, vol. 32, no. 4, 2013, p. 93-95. Academic OneFile.
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Hope in American History: Driving Progress and Shaping a Brighter Future. (2023, Sep 04). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/hope-in-american-history-driving-progress-and-shaping-a-brighter-future/