Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tears on the Mall.

It's been over a week since I stood on the Mall in Washington D.C. and witnessed Barack Obama take the oath of office as President. The day was sunny and bitterly cold.

Those of us who had silver, blue or purple tickets found ourselves stopped by a security process that broke down. We stood in a crowd of tens of thousands, not moving, until the three of us moved sideways and found our way onto the Mall.

It was something. Whatever your political persuasion, it was something!

Let me tell you about two small moments. A young, African-American father stood behind me and his 9-10 year old son was with him. Periodically, during the ceremony, the father would whisper in son's ear...reminding him what this meant. Then, the father would hold his son up above the crowd so the young man could see the platform on the Capitol building.

A tall, elegantly-dressed African-American woman stood a few feet to the front and right of me. She looked like she might have been 45 years old. She never said a thing. Never clapped or stamped her feet. When Barack Obama took the oath of office, though, I looked over at her and her cheeks were wet with tears.

Our country has been wrestling the issue of race ever since Africans were chained in the holds of sailing vessels and shipped to North America. Those of us who have lived through the 50's and 60's and 70's can see how far we have come. Things are so much better than they were in the past. But there is still progress to be made. The journey isn't done.

But we're making progress. We aren't where we used to be, and we aren't where were going to be.

There were tears on the Mall.

They said something deep and true.

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