Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration demonstrates societal feat

January 22, 2009

It’s noteworthy that Martin Luther King Day comes the same week as the inauguration of the new president of the United States. In a way, this inauguration echoes King’s famous wish that people be judged by the content of their character rather than skin color, but it didn’t come about easily. And, there is still much to be done to make everyday equality a living thing. It certainly helps that President Barack Obama is of the next generation. Just think what those people in Little Rock, Ark., the day President Dwight Eisenhower called out the National Guard to enable those schools to be integrated would have thought of this turn of events. Many of them would simply have disbelieved that it was even possible.

I can only hope that today’s generation will someday regard the whole practice of segregation as a curious anomaly. My sister’s boys are both serving in the U.S. Navy. One served on a submarine on the longest deployment since Vietnam. He is now stationed in Hawaii where he lives with his wife and their little daughter whose DNA is a wonderful mixture of Malaysian and various Caucasian and Native American genomes. Her other son is stationed in Norfolk, Va., where he helps maintain aircraft carriers. He is married to a lovely African American woman.

There was a time in American history when my nephew’s marriage would have been illegal in many of our states. That was a shameful time in American history. To me, it would be the same as saying that because I have brown eyes, I could not go to the same school with those who have blue eyes. This whole idea that one color of skin is inferior to another is completely nonsensical and illogical. I believe that the entire issue has been a terrible handicap to the fulfillment of our nation’s dream of equality for all. I don’t understand why our country’s founders tolerated the existence of slavery in the first place. It has caused untold suffering over the years, before and after the brutal savagery of the War Between the States. The prejudices fostered by the establishment of slavery were so slow to diminish that they continued to fester for more than a century and a half after that Civil War had come to its bloody conclusion. The Constitution may have proclaimed all men are created equal, but those who enforced it turned a blind eye to some men and all women for far too long.

It truly warms my heart that I can believe that my grandchildren and the grandchildren of my siblings and their contemporaries will grow up in a different world — one in which the color of their skin is much less significant than that it was during my childhood.

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