Wednesday, November 5, 2008
A New Nation...
Tears stream down my face as the announcement came at 11 pm* that we have a new President. My heart is full. As a young Jewish girl raised in the South, I remember seeing water fountains marked "white only" and "colored" - there were white and "colored" schools - African Americans could not eat in the same restaurants as me - or go to the same restroom as me - growing up I never saw a black person in anything but a menial or blue collar job. I went to school with only white students until my senior year when 9 black students were bussed to our school of 3500. The only black people I knew were maids in a white friend's home. In school the only thing I studied about black people was about slavery and the Middle Passage and the Civil War - all from a white perspective. From today on when young people look in their history books a new face will be seen on the page with all the Presidents - all white men - 12 were slave owners - from today on they will see a new face as the President of the United States - Barack Obama - the 44th President of the United States - an African American face for all of the people. Never in my lifetime - never during the Civil Rights Movement - never was this idea ever in the realm of my imagination.
I'm trying to get my head around this - I'm overjoyed and can finally say "G-d Bless America!" and be proud of this country and the people who had the hope and courage to see something in this person to lead us in these dark and troubled times. And to know that my home state of Virginia turned the tide and voted Democratic for the first time in over forty years! If only Tim Russert and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy could be with us to see this historic day. I like to think that the healing of the deep wounds of our great country are finally beginning to heal after over 200 years. This gives all minorities hope for things to come in our lifetime. America has turned the corner today and I am so proud to be an American!
* 11 pm - interesting fact - when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation - word got out to the country at 11 pm - it was 11 pm last night that the announcement broke by the various news stations that Barack Obama had enough electoral votes and was indeed the next President of the United States - I can't help but think about the fact that it was slave labor that built the steps of the Capitol in Washington,D.C. that our new President Barack Obama will stand on January 20th to take the Oath of Office.
I was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in the suburbs in Virginia (the part that the Republicans said didn't count) - Fairfax County - When I was in high school my father was elected Chair of the Fairfax County School Board - a lifelong Nixon Republican - he was given the difficult task of deciding along with the Board whether to integrate the schools - he struggled long and hard with his decision - he was always one to do the right thing - there was a tie when the Board voted - it was his vote that decided that indeed the schools would be integrated - the toll of this decision and the stress my Dad was under during these difficult times took a toll on him - but he was a part of history and change that was good - I didn't understand the magnitude of all of this at the time - I recently read the newspaper clippings that he saved accounting these meetings - I never really told my Dad how proud I was of his decision and the courage he had at the time - he passed away 25 years ago - and although our politics were never the same - which made for lively dinner table conversations over the years - I'm pretty sure my Dad would have been supporting McCain but I know that my Dad would have been proud of our country's courage to do the right thing - I love you, Poppy and I'm so very proud of the work you did at a time that wasn't easy - but then the path of courage never is.