Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I walked in the streets in DC again this weekend. I’ve done that many times before, but for the first time I walked in them to celebrate for something rather than agitate against something. I spoke with several others in the streets or on the Metro who were sharing the same realization. It’s an interesting sensation, and one I’d like to have again someday.
The whole family went down yesterday to join the millions in the throng for President Obama’s (that was fun to write; I think I’ll do it again: President Obama’s) inauguration. We couldn’t see much, but we could certainly feel the excitement and joy as we celebrated the peaceful transfer of power that marks a great democracy moving more fully into its promise of “all people.”
Oddly enough, I got interviewed again. I’m not sure why this happens, but I’ve been a “person-on-the-street” interview at least four times in D.C. with media outlets ranging from al Jazeera (I kid you not) to the CBS Evening News. Yesterday it was Ebony.
The reporter asked us what the inauguration meant to us and how it made us feel. My nine-year-old daughter, remembering afternoons spent walking the canvas routes with me, said, “excited and proud that I helped to get the first African-American president elected.”
Never having learned the actor’s adage to avoid dogs and children because they will upstage you every time, I dived in, too.
President Obama’s inauguration prompted me to think back to my Southern childhood. I was born in Alabama in 1959, and probably had my diapers changed in Whites Only restrooms – certainly not change you can believe in!
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it does bend toward justice. It has been bent dramatically, by the faithful work of thousands of committed hands, in my lifetime.
The journey toward a more perfect union is endless, but we have travelled – marched, walked, freedom rode – a great distance, and yesterday was a time to celebrate not only the election of a leader with phenomenal gifts and potential, but also that national journey.
Nothing else could explain why 2 million people would brave the cold, the wind, and the inconvenience of being on the Mall. I still don’t know exactly what the president said because the words echoing off the Washington Monument were often muddled and sometimes drowned out by the flags whipping in the wind. But there is no place in the world that I would rather have been.