A new America has been born as a result of the election of Senator Barack Obama as president of this nation. Our national nightmare of slavery and oppression is drawing to an end and a new beginning is ready to be born. Will racism end tomorrow– absolutely not. Will Black Americans be accepted equally in all aspects of society– of course not. But, the United States of America has sent a message not only to itself but to all nations of the world. We intend once more to be a beacon to the world that racial, religious and cultural differences have no place in the 21st century.
I was born in 1930 into a world in which Catholics could not be elected president, in which Jews could not live where they wish, in which Italians were stereotyped and criminals, and black skinned people could not even play baseball. I recall the election of Lehman as the first Jewish governor of New York and the pride Jews felt that “one of their own” could become governor of the state in which they lived.
In May, 1954, I was in the class of Dr. Kenneth Clark, whose psychological work on the Brown vs Board of Education case influenced the Supreme Court to declare segregation to be illegal. We stood as a class and greeted his entrance into the room with tears and cheers. He told us that day, the journey had just begun, and we must fight to end all forms of hatred whether it be against black skinned people or those of other religions. The victory of Barack Obama ends one era and gives birth to another.
People like A. Philip Randolph and Malcom X and Martin Luther King marched with millions of people, black and white, Jew and Christian, men and women, in the journey to end hatred in this society. It was awe inspiring to see a huge crowd in Chicago, composed of those of every skin color and age and sexual gender cry and applaud at the news of the victory. They are ready to take on the fight to create a new America.
As an American, as a human, I can hold my head high once again because I now live in an America whose president will be Barack Obama. His fight will be difficult, he will stumble along the way, but he will continue the fight until we end poverty, until we ensure every American has health care and our children have access to the best education and that no young person is ever denied the right to education because of lack of money.
I am an American who finally has pride in everything this nation stands for since that day in 1776 when some men gathered together and wrote a Declaration of Independence that became a symbol for people throughout the world. The election of Barack Obama simply continues that message.