The Texas Panhandle town in which I spent my childhood was a sweet little hamlet, with a perfect townsquare surrounding the county courthouse, and with streets like red-brick arteries flowing outward to commerce and cotton and churches and pre-War houses filled with post-War promise. It was simply a nice place to grow up.
But what I didn't really notice until later was that, after school, all my black friends went to their homes literally across the tracks, in the run-down community on the other side of the highway, just before the cemetery. We never played together, though I occasionally saw them in summertime at the city swimming pool. I never saw them at the "Private Skate and Swim Club," because we all know what "private" means. Again, this was the 1980s.
Today is a great day for our country. I hope and pray for Barack Obama's administration. I hope and pray for these people called Americans living under Obama's watch. I want this to prove to be an even more positively historic presidency in four or eight years than it is today. But no matter what happens, today is a great day.
After today, Jeff and Paul and Johnny and Wallace and all the other black guys I went to school with and played football with--but never rode bikes with or skated with--those guys and girls can look their children in the eyes and tell them truthfully that there is somewhere else for them, somewhere besides "across the tracks." After today, I can look at my own beloved daughter--the offspring of a black biological father--and I can tell my beautiful child that in America, it is really possible that people are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. After today, the obligation of history rests not on the unspoken evils of unjust belief systems, but squarely on the shoulders of the people--all the people.