Well, we did it.
Finally. Now it’s 2008 and we have a Viable Candidate for President who is a man of African descent. Now, integration began in the fifties and sixties with the likes of Rosa Parks, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Voting Rights, School integration, and the death of Jim Crow laws.
In the swell of action during those times I can remember few images that so captivated me as the one taken in Boston during the busing demonstrations. A well dressed black man was being held by another man, who was white… the black guy’s arms were behind his back he struggled to free himself. Another man… obviously trying to keep segregation alive in Boston… used the American Flag… secured to a long pole… to spear the helpless man. The image of that man, held in battle… the flag, not hanging, but in full speed, trailing like the wake of a yacht as the staff sought its mark… made me cringe to think this is how people treated others, whatever their race or background.
A great deal has happened since then. Integration has worked. It has been Fifty-plus years since the Brown vs. the Board of Education and our society is more diverse than ever before. Just look around at the twenty and thirty-somethings. Our images, our jobs, our entertainment, our society… show more diversity than ever before and a more relaxed attitude toward those from other backgrounds. And although we are still plagued with social evils of crime, gangs, drug addiction, crooked politicians, poverty, racism, war, and other ills, our society is more open to the various peoples that make up our Union.
This is a good thing. We cannot just ignore the rest of the world. The American ideals of the 1950s – a homogeneous society with a chicken in every pot and a Ford in every garage – just didn’t work for everyone. It still doesn’t.
Even in this time of great uncertainty, I have great optimism. The last seven or eight years have been a fearful, unsettling, and worrisome time for America. We’ve lashed out, made enemies, alienated friends, and shown the world that we are incapable of unilaterally being the world’s police force. This “me-first”, Cowboy Idealism has not served the American people. That is not who we are. We are better than that. Oh… yes we are.
Let us return to being a ‘city on a hill’ whose light cannot be hid. A nation to be emulated. That would be good.