05 November 2008

President Obama, Bearing our Hope

I have had my apprehensions about Barack Obama becoming President of the United States. He has run as the candidate upon whom we can project almost whatever hopes (or fears) we want. Sort of like a more intellectual and aware Chauncey Gardner from the movie Being There.

But I listened to his acceptance speech, and I saw Jesse Jackson genuinely teary-eyed. Forty years ago Jackson was close by when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Forty-four years ago black people were not able to exercise their right to vote in many parts of the country. Back then a common theme of the Civil Rights Movement was the song whose words included, "We shall overcome some day."

In Barack Obama's election to the presidency, that day is dawning.

I can only hope that Mr. Obama will be as great a president as his rhetoric indicates he means to be. I hope he is better than both his supporters and his detractors can imagine. But whatever happens politically, his election has to improve the sociology of this country. Children of color now have another real hero in whose footsteps they might hope to follow. And that has to be a very good thing for all of us.

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