While reading the news today, I came across this piece online
- I found the little poem at the end to be particularly moving and it made me reflect a little on what just happened back home.
It feels really great to have helped make history. And I think people my age forget how bad things were not so long ago.
I was reminded the other day that the landmark Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia (which is a staple of constitutional law classes) came down in 1967. Obama was something like 6 years old at the time.
In Loving v. Virginia, the lower courts had found that a white woman married to a black man in Virginia was violating the law against interracial marriage. The Supreme Court finally overturned it, finding the interracial marriage law to be unconstitutional, but not before the couple in question went through hell to be together.
In 1967, my parents were both in their early 20s.
The lesson to be learned is that change can only happen on a generational level, and that it can only happen through laws that force long-held prejudices to end. The civil rights movement was the most powerful force for equality that this country ever saw, and it's amazing that it only took a generation to create a body of youth for whom race really doesn't matter.
If this could be done in the US, a nation that not so long ago had slavery, it can be done elsewhere. And the solution is integration of education. Take the Roma in hungary for instance - Hungarians have to be legally forced to share classrooms with Roma children without recourse to newly formed de facto segregated private schools. And in a generation, maybe the Roma won't be second class citizens anymore.
That is the hope that America was meant to bring to the world. That's what makes other countries look up to us. Because really, nothing is ever impossible, and we just showed the world. Not just with an electoral victory, but with people taking to the streets all across the country, celebrating a victory that they were personally invested in, and that meant the promise of change, in all of its guises.
The exuberance shown, from Pennsylvania Avenue, to the streets of Ann Arbor, to the neighborhoods of cities across America tells us something else. Maybe this generation didn't protest like was done in the 1960s. Maybe no one confronted police, yelled to be heard and marched in the streets. But maybe this generation was right. By using the democratic process to effect change, the American people showed the world that yes, we are still a great force for good, for change, and for democracy. Our system isn't quite as broken as was feared. And on Tuesday night we proved it. Without violence and without protests. Even in Chicago.