Friday, September 26, 2008

More History Made in the Presidential Race

It's probably understandable that lost amid the current crisis with the economy and the controversy regarding whether or not the first presidential debates will be held (it appears it will), is the historic significance of the venue.

The University of Mississippi, 'Ole Miss', is of singular importance to the Civil Rights Movement. And tonight is yet another example of historic and political irony among so many ironies that our country is witnessing this year.

In 1962, James Meredith an African-American, applied to become the first black student at the school. Having applied on January 31, 1962, Meredith was informed by telegram on February 4 that his admission was denied. Meredith then sought the help of the Justice Department in gaining admission. Eventually a law suit by the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples, which would go all the way to the Supreme Court, allowed Meredith to gain admission in September 1962.

On Friday night, the first presidential debate of this election season will be held at Ole Miss and one participant is an African-American.

There are many of us who are acutely aware that America's progress on the issue of race has been made at a snail's pace. Others will argue that this quantum leap took less than 50 years.
But one must remember its a fifty year period at the tail end of nearly 400 years of slavery, bigotry, disenfranchisement and oppression, some of which still takes place.

Either way, I think we ought to mark this moment and celebrate the progress. How far we've actually come will be seen, in some measure on November 4. That determination won't be based on whether or not Barak Obama wins or loses, but why.

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