Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes, We Can

As I watched video footage on CNN of jubilated revelers singing and dancing on U Street in Washington, DC last night I had a strong, vivid memory of U Street in April 1968—ablaze with hot and angry and disappointed men and women, looting and destroying in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination days before. Then, it seemed that hope had died with Reverend King. Now, it seems that hope is alive again.

Is it? Forty years later America has elected its first African-American president.


A huge bloom of first-time voters, young enough that King is only a black-and-white photo in a textbook, young enough that they never saw water fountains labeled “Colored” or restaurants with signs proclaiming “White Only,” stepped up to make a change. And people my age, who do remember the inequities with embarrassment, signed on too. And even some elderly people, some of whom remember the days when women couldn’t vote and some who have had their retirement savings shaken recently, voted for change.


But for me, the most amazing part is that, while race is perhaps the most visible element in this historic election, the election really wasn’t about race. It was about moving on, which is what Americans do best. For over 200 years, we have celebrated and wept, we have been driven to our knees by wars and recessions and even terrorism, and each time we’ve changed for the better.

The past few months have seen an ugly campaign. But now it’s time to move on. It’s time to put aside negativity and celebrate our ability to participate—one way or another—in a truly historic event. Yes, we can.

1 comment:

Janice in GA said...

I totally agree. Working together for change = A Very VERY Good Thing.