Barack Obama’s election last week as the nation’s first black president had a familiar feel.
It felt like the Million Man March except this time people of all races, ethnicities and genders were in it. In the Million Man March, black men gathered on Oct. 16, 1995, in Washington for responsibility, reconciliation and self-determination.
It was a glorious event, which filled black people nationwide with pride because the peaceful march showed a commitment like no other for what a group could accomplish if it had a unified goal. Obama’s election as the 44th president of the United States has had that same moving, motivating effect on people.
My daughters, my friends — going back to high school and college — and people I don’t even know called, e-mailed and sent text messages bursting with pride, tears and happiness for what Americans had accomplished. To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., we had overcome.
People who called and e-mailed since Nov. 4 reminded me of an earlier column on the presidential race. I had written that I thought GOP candidate John McCain would win because America was not ready to elect a black president.
I also wrote that I wanted to be wrong, and folks remembered that, too. America passed the diversity test.
Friends and my daughter, Leslie, told me of spontaneous parties and parades in racially mixed neighborhoods of people celebrating Obama’s victory. It took votes from people of all colors for Obama to win.
Car horns honked in midtown Kansas City when TV commentators announced Obama had won the presidency. The news media have focused their microphones, cameras and notebooks on black America to get feedback on Obama’s historic victory. But people who are white are celebrating, too. One woman said in an e-mail, “This is a great time for our country and hopefully we can all make this a better country and stand by our new president.”
A caller said: “I just feel like we’ve all won. We’ve all played a part in America. I can’t tell you how great I feel. I just feel so hopeful for the first time in years.”
A friend who teaches college in California e-mailed me. We went to a nearly all-white high school in St. Louis starting in 1969, when integration was a noble social experiment.
She wrote: “It’s a new day, and I can’t think of a better one than this. I’m so glad we lived to see this happen.”
X Diuguid is a member of The Kansas City Star’s Editorial Board. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune.