As I write this tonight, I am still in a state of shock about our election! Good shock! Great shock! And let me tell you why…….
I am a daughter of the South. I remember the segregated water fountains, rest rooms, the whites only signs, the angry voices of those who would keep things as they were, and never look forward. My mother was the sweetest soul on earth, and through her quiet strength, I learned to revere the essence of what is inside each man and woman, and not what is on the outside.
I was a junior in high school in 1960, in Alexandria, Virginia, when my high school was integrated. There were 1200 students that year, and only one was an African American. He was one year behind me, so I did not have classes with him, but occasionally I saw him in the halls and wondered at his fortitude.
When I graduated from college, I taught French in Fairfax County, (suburban Washington, D.C.) in an intermediate school – seventh and eighth graders, in the building which had been the all-black high school until Fairfax was fully integrated, and my principal, Taylor Williams, had been the principal of that high school. He was a prince of a man, so wise and so insightful. He had become part of the change that was on the move so many years ago.
Fast forward to my son’s second grade in elementary school, here in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He came home on the first day of school that September, and told me that Mrs. Garvin was “the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, Mommy – except for you!” When I asked him to describe her, he said she had dark brown eyes, and hair just like mine – which was quite curly at the time. It wasn’t until Back to School night that I met Mrs. Garvin, and discovered that she was African American. I was so proud of Matthew that it never occurred to him to describe her in terms of her race, but rather how beautiful she was!
And now, tonight, we have just elected our first African American president!!!!!!!!! I am simply overwhelmed that I have lived to see this, and more importantly, that our nation has seen fit and has the courage to take this step. Regardless of what anyone believes about political policies, think about this momentous occasion! Think what this says about Americans as a people to move to this point in our history! I think this says to us and to the world that we CAN get things right, that we can finally look past the exterior to that content of character which Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently described. Perhaps this can be a signal for all of us to try to work for the betterment of all citizens, and not a select few of our peers. Imagine if we devote time to cooperating, instead of name calling; to helping others instead of trying to outdo others; to recognizing that what is within each one of us is so much more important than how we appear on the outside! What a wonderful world this would be………..