I guess I’ll be the first to write about last night’s stunning events.
As a 9 year-old boy in 1978 I accompanied my mother to our local trauma center in the Bronx to visit the teenage son of a close friend of hers. The boy had been severely beaten in a fight at a street fair. The fair was a traditional Italian-American affair (a “fest” as they were known) “disrupted” by some black patrons. Apparently words were spoken to some of the local girls. In the outerborough style of the day baseball bats were pulled from the trunks of Camaros and Monte Carlos. The rest was predictable.
Ten years later, I vividly recall sitting in my student apartment at Georgetown trying to explain to my far more sophisticated classmates why people I had grown up with in Yonkers were overturning the cars of Yonkers city councilmen who were leaving a vote to accept the order, on pain of contempt, direct federal intervention and crippling fines, of a federal district judge to reverse generations of de facto discrimination in housing and, as a consequence, the Yonkers school system.
Yesterday, my wife and I took our boys to our local polling place. In their style, they hammered away on their Nintendo DS’s while we waited to vote. A black boy, perhaps two or three years older than them, asked if he could “show them some things” on the game. They quickly surrendered their game and sat mesmerized while he displayed jedi skills they never thought possible. When it was time to go, my boys fiercely resisted leaving their new “friend”.
I’m not sure that any of Barack Obama’s policies will be good for our country. However, yesterday he showed us how to take the progress we have made in this country in overcoming its original sin and translated it into an electoral victory and a bellweather for social change. That can never be taken away from him…or us. If he does nothing else, his place in history is secure.