Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Post Inaugural Thoughts - Wednesday 1/21/2009
It was kind of cool this morning at Starbucks with so many people scanning their fresh copies of the Los Angeles Times or New York Times. Clearly, we were all trying to extend the excitement that we felt yesterday while watching the inauguration and the subsequent balls.
Reading the LAT's story about Eugene Allen, an 89-year-old former White House butler who was invited to attend the inauguration brought tears to my eyes. So do the other stories of the many people whose parents and grandparents were denied rights in this country because of the color of their skin, and not so many years ago.
Something crystallized for me while listening to Lester Holt comment during The Today Show's coverage yesterday. He said--and I'm paraphrasing--that he didn't think he would live to see an African-American president elected, but that now that it has happened he can't really imagine why it seemed such an unreachable goal. On Inauguration Day 2009, it just made sense.
Suddenly I realized why I've been so emotional when watching black television reporters over the past few weeks talk about living to see the day they and their parents didn't think they'd see, and how finally they feel included in the process. It just breaks my heart to think that all these people who have contributed so much to our common culture and to my understanding of it have felt like they're on the outside looking in.
I am optimistic about Obama's presidency. I am ready for a modern day FDR. But no matter what happens during his term, he has already done us this great service: he has allowed us to demonstrate to ourselves and the world that the evils of racism are not foremost in our political and social mindset.
There was reason for us to think that the country wasn't ready for this moment, but thank goodness we were and thank goodness this man and his family stepped us to give us the opportunity. Everything's not perfect, and there's a lot of work ahead, but to have a leader whose goals include restoring us to our ideals is really exciting.
As Kitty said, "It's so wonderful to look forward to the newspaper to find out what President Obama is going to do. He has hit the ground running."
You know, though, we may have been ready for this a long time ago. I for one would have voted for Barbara Jordan.