Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The mountaintop

In 1964, when my then-husband and I went to Biloxi, Mississippi a couple times a year to visit his mother, I had my first taste of Jim Crow and the horror that was segregation. You need to know I was raised in an all-white town in south Jersey, where the African-American population was isolated on either side of the main streets and my schools were lily white. In college, I met people of all backgrounds and quickly realized that color didn't register with me as it did with some. I dated young men of color, had friends of all ethnic groups. So you can imagine what Biloxi, Mississippi did to my social conscience. Why, for God's sake, should a black man have to get off the sidewalk so I could pass? Why separate water fountains and rest rooms? Why, most of all, did everyone seem to take that hideous status quo as gospel and not challenge the basic errors of its way?

Then came Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Not only did he speak for the legions of African-Americans who hungered for his message and who risked their lives to abolish the old ways, he spoke to me in a very personal way. I believed what he preached ... that the day would come when a person would be judged, not on the color of his skin, but on the content of his character.

Election Day, 2008 was the final push to the pinnacle of the mountain Dr. King envisioned. At 11 p.m., when most of the results were counted, it became apparent that one man, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, had reached the mountaintop and planted a symbolic victory flag there for not only those of his own ethnic heritage but for all of us who finally can believe the evils of segregation and racism have been set aside.

Am I naive enough to think racism died when Senator Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president of the US? Of course not. After all, his victory wasn't unanimous. Millions of voters who did not support him couldn't get past his race, so we know old prejudices won't vanish instantly. I am, however, optimistic enough to believe that, as his presidency progresses and our country's divisions and mistakes are healed and made irrelevant, all Americans will benefit from this election result.

I believe President-elect Barack Obama will be a great president. He inherits some of the most serious problems ever to face our nation, thanks to the incompetence of his predecessor. But I believe he will surround himself with the best and the brightest and those great minds will find practical and effective ways to turn us around.

I'm seriously proud to have watched Senator Obama way back in 2004 and spotted the potential for what happened yesterday. I felt an unusual sense of pride when I cast my vote for Senator Obama and I couldn't hold back the tears of gratitude I shed when the victory was sealed. We have come a very long way and now the real work of restoring our nation to its rightful place in the world will begin.



At November 6, 2008 at 8:33 AM , Blogger goooooood girl said...

Feel good......


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