Mainly I just want to affirm and echo Jim’s post below.
I just turned fifty — I’m not quite three years older than our next President, an interesting and rather sobering thought in itself. When I was a small boy in Birmingham, Alabama — around the time that Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his great Letter from the Birmingham Jail — there were still “White” and “Colored” water fountains at the Birmingham Zoo. Had a still-smaller Barack Obama tried to drink from the same one I drank from, he would have been stopped, and his adult guardians possibly arrested. When I visited my mother at work, at a large bank in downtown Birmingham, she would take me around the corner to Krystal for burgers; and had the young Obama entered and tried to order food, he would have been refused, and again his adult guardians would possibly have been arrested.
This morning on NPR there was a story about a 109-year-old African-American woman who calls Obama’s candidacy a “blessing.” The story doesn’t say that she voted for him — she probably didn’t make it to the polls — but she could have voted for him — and her father was an emancipated slave. History sometimes seems to move with excruciating slowness, and sometimes with dizzying rapidity; but the genuine experience of historical change is always disorienting.
God bless President Obama.