The election of Barak Obama was received with an understandable mixture of joy and relief both here and abroad. And even nominally nonpolitical bloggers have joined in the celebration. It seems rather improbable that Obama can fulfill all what is expected of him, but we can still savor the moment. And one of the best summations of what this moment means is provided by Henry Louis Gates Jr. on TheRoots.com, who puts it in a convincing historical context.
Of special interest is his unearthing of a 1958 prediction by Jacob K. Javits, the liberal Republican senator from New York, who said America would have a black black president by the year 2000. In an article in Esquire, Javits wrote:
What manner of man will this be, this possible Negro Presidential candidate of 2000? Undoubtedly, he will be well-educated. He will be well-traveled and have a keen grasp of his country’s role in the world and its relationships. He will be a dedicated internationalist with working comprehension of the intricacies of foreign aid, technical assistance and reciprocal trade. … Assuredly, though, despite his other characteristics, he will have developed the fortitude to withstand the vicious smear attacks that came his way as he fought to the top in government and politics … those in the vanguard may expect to be the targets for scurrilous attacks, as the hate mongers, in the last ditch efforts, spew their verbal and written poison.