Obama victory shows American progress

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By The Staff

Many Americans thought they’d never live to see a day like Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Barack Obama, the first-term U.S. senator from Illinois, was elected the 44th president of the United States. The Democrat defeated Republican John McCain to win the presidency.

Obama’s victory would have been historic no matter who he was. Anyone who wins this office, often called “the highest in the land,” makes history. But, of course, Obama’s victory is like none that came before. When Obama takes office in January, he will be the first black man to take the presidential oath.

Because that racial barrier has finally been broken, millions of people, and not just people of color, and not just people in this country, are feeling joyous and proud. The symbolic meaning of what our country did Tuesday in electing the first black man as president is nothing short of profound.

McCain and President George W. Bush rightly pushed partisanship aside when they each noted the milestone of Obama’s victory when they congratulated him on his win. We hope most Americans, no matter their race or political party, will follow their lead.

Even if your candidate didn’t win Tuesday, and even if you don’t agree with where Obama stands politically, we hope you can appreciate, if not be proud of, what Obama’s victory says about America, and how far the country has come in racial relations, since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Obama’s election is the statement of a dream - and perhaps “the dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King - being realized. Forty years ago, when King and another promoter of civil rights, Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, were killed, what Obama did Tuesday would have been inconceivable to most Americans.

Now it’s a reality.

Obama overcame whatever racial barriers he faced in this 21st century election to win the presidency. And he did so in an election in which he neither played up or played down his racial makeup. On this question, he simply said, this is what I am.

And it seems the majority of Americans said they were OK with it - that race didn’t matter - that they thought Obama was the best candidate to lead the country for the next four years. That’s significant.

It’s perhaps equally significant how Obama’s achievement is touching so many people, especially people of color. They are looking to his victory and feeling pride, joy and optimism. It’s no telling how many young black Americans are going to be inspired by Obama’s achievement to achieve great things themselves. His message of hope has resonated.