Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama nomination is historical

Barack Obama is the Democratic presidential nominee. What a historical moment for our country! Growing up in Detroit and living through the civil rights era, I never thought I'd live to see this day. Sure, I heard family and friends talk about equal rights in public, but they changed their tune behind closed doors. That was okay. I couldn't condemn them for their prejudice because I understood they were raised to think that way, which motivated me to raise my children differently, as it did millions of other Americans. Our efforts have reaped results.

Two bloggers wrote posts that illustrated to me just how far we've come. This was written by Kvatch, who plans on voting for Barack Obama precisely because he's black:
Now before you get yourself in a tizzy—screaming at me about reverse racism or how I’ve reduced Obama down to one banal fact—think about this: The one inescapable truth is that Obama’s perspective as president will be different than all who’ve preceded him, a truth that applies equally well to Senator Clinton. These presidential candidates simply aren’t crusty old white guys. Their experience and their outlook are fundamentally different than a Bush, or a Reagan, a Kennedy, or a Johnson.

Whether or not Obama brings change is unimportant. He is change.
For all the change Obama represents, Ezra Klein is surprised by how predictable and normal it feels.
Obama's speech tonight was powerful, but then, most all of his speeches are. This address stood out less than I expected. It took me an hour to realize how extraordinary that was. I had just watched an African-American capture the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America, and it felt...normal. Almost predictable. 50 years ago, African Americans often couldn't vote, and dozens died in the fight to ensure them the franchise. African-Americans couldn't use the same water fountains or rest rooms as white Americans. Black children often couldn't attend the same schools as white children. Employers could discriminate based on race. 50 years ago, African Americans occupied, in effect, a second, and lesser, country. Today, an African-American man may well become the president of the whole country, and it feels almost normal.

It was, to be sure, not entirely unpredicted. On March 31st, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. preached his final Sunday sermon. "We shall overcome," he said, "because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Four days later, he was murdered. But 40 years later, his dream is more alive than he could have ever imagined. Not only might a black man be president, but at times, many forget to even be surprised by it.
We're not perfect yet, but we've come a long way.


(Cross-posted at BFM.)

4 comments:

abi said...

We sure have come a long way. I remember the days you're talking about. It's still hard to believe that in my lifetime, blacks in some parts of this country were barred from lunchrooms, hotels, and other public places, and literally had to sit at the back of the bus. And of course, couldn't marry whites.

You are so right - Obama's nomination is a milestone in our history. I feel like I did when I saw the Berlin wall come down. Just incredible. But it's maddening that this great moment is being overshadowed by the Hillary Ego Express. She refuses to give up the spotlight. She simply can't bring herself to allow us to celebrate this wonderful moment in history. It's just too selfish for words.

If anyone still needs a reason why she shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the WH, this is it.

Kvatch said...

Kathy! I'm so honored that you quoted me. Thanks.

I'm probably not through criticizing the Obama campaign. We need more substance, more grit, and a willingness to frame McCain as he is: A cranky, old, dangerous, sell-out. But for the moment...you can't escape the importance of Obama's clinching the nomination.

Ron Nasty said...

Last year, every body presumed Sen. Clinton would be the nominee. The fact that Sen. Obama was able to take on the presumed front runner and wrest the nomination from her is a good sign of his ability to continue to make history.

Kathy said...

Abi, I'm more disappointed in Hillary than I am mad. This was her opportunity to rise to the occasion and show Republicans that she was better than them, instead she ended up using their slime ball tactics.

Kvatch, you're welcome. I thought you put his nomination into perspective quite nicely, and it was a perspective I hadn't read anywhere else.

Ron, after taking on Clinton, I'm optimistic Obama can steamroll over McCain.