I've been anticipating this day for a long time, but it's hard to actually come to grips with the reality of the event. Barack Obama, an African-American is going to be the nominee of the Democratic party for President. It has been a forgone conclusion since his winning streak post Super Tuesday, but anticipating something and it actually happening are two separate things. To say this is a historic occasion is an understatement. When Barack Obama gave his inspiring Keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention, I had hoped that he would eventually run for President. In fact, I was hoping that he would run in this campaign. However, I never anticipated that he would actually win. I saw him as the first serious Black candidate to run for the Presidency (with respect to Jesse Jackson), but I saw his candidacy as a step along the way.
I have had many conversations with my co-contributor to Random Thoughts, and he will certainly confirm that I am certainly not under the illusion that Obama will actually win the Presidency. I have friends, who despite holding me (I am Black, by the way) in the highest regard, would never vote for Barack Obama for the single reason of the color of his skin. I won't name any names here because I don't want to embarrass my friends, but I can only imagine how many people around the country hold the exact same view.
Regardless of my thoughts about the ultimate disposition of the General Election, I am still thrilled with the outcome of the race for the Democratic nomination. I am still of the mind that Obama's anticipated loss in the General Election will sound the death knell for another African-American candidate for at least the next couple of decades, however I do think that this is a step that needs to be taken. America is not quite at the "post racial" state that some in the press would like to think. I believe that we are still perhaps about 40 years away from that glorious day when America is able to evaluate a candidate without taking race in to account. Along with the people who will vote along racist lines and the disgruntled Clinton supporters, I think that Obama's fate is sealed. The radical Clinton supporters who have been espousing the view that Obama will lose to McCain in November (and are willing to do everything to make sure that prediction comes true) may ultimately be proven right. But they will be proven right not for the reason that they would like to claim (that Obama is unqualified for the job, because unless you've been the President, there is no job that adequately prepares you for being the leader of the free world), but because America is not quite ready to elect an African-American to the highest office in the land.
I will appreciate tonight's Obama victory as the historic step that it represents. It is, however, just a step along the way (it is a big step). I don't think that we (as a nation) have reached the proverbial mountain top quite yet. Martin Luther King's dream has not been fulfilled quite yet (especially when we can look to states like West Virginia and Kentucky where over 20% of the voters were willing to admit that race played a major role in their decision), but we as a nation are on the way to judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. We just need a couple of more generations to pass before we actually get a chance to see the promised land of a true "post racial" society. So I won't look upon the General Election as an opportunity lost, I will see it as a positive step where as President Kennedy so eloquently stated, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. It will just take a little longer until we can truly be ruled by the "better angels of our nature". So if you are so inclined, revel in Obama's victory tonight. And regardless of the outcome in November, remember how far we have come, and how close we are to fulfilling our destiny as a nation.