I've lived through a lot of interesting elections in my lifetime starting with the one between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, but none were more interesting or important than the one we just had that elected Barack Obama our next president.
I'm a proud American but I'm often embarrassed by our loud mouthed insistence that we are the greatest nation in the world even though I think it's true. The fact that the citizens of this country, 80 percent of whom are white, freely chose to elect a black man as their leader simply because they thought he was the best choice makes me think that we have a right to be proud of ourselves.
While watching the elections results last Tuesday, I got thinking about a piece I did in 1997 in Little Rock Arkansas about the 40th anniversary of the forced integration of Central High in Little Rock.
I spent some time walking around one of the poor neighborhoods near Central High once the single biggest High School in the United States.
I remember watching my friend Harry Reasoner report the story the day that Orval Faubus blocked black kids from going in.
Reasoner: Do you think there will be more trouble this year?
Kid: Yes sir, I do.
Reasoner: Would you help make it if you had to?
Student: Yes sir, I would.
Reasoner: You don't want negroes in school?
Student: No sir.
Reasoner: Is that a pretty general attitude? How do you feel about negroes in School?
Student: I don't think negroes should go to school with the white people. They should stay in their own class.
"To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help. And I will be your president too," Obama said during his acceptance speech.
"This is our moment, this is our time to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids. To restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace. To reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many we are one. That while we breathe we hope and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can't…we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can. Thank you. God Bless you and may god bless the United States of America."
We've come a long way - a good way.
Written by Andy Rooney