The election has come and gone and Barack Obama is President-Elect of the great United States of America. Many are cheering not only here but all over the world at the elevation of this man to the post of the most powerful and influential person in the world. It is a great achievement, no doubt about it. He ran a stunning campaign that dwarfed any we’ve seen at least in my lifetime of voting.
Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream that all people would be treated equally, not based on their color but on their character. In fact, he said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, perhaps one of the greatest speeches ever, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
I know that Civil Rights leaders and defenders of freedom and equality all over the world are joyful today about Obama’s victory and the fact that Americans seemed to have progressed beyond racism to elect a black man to the Presidency. But I wonder if Martin Luther King, Jr. would be turning over in his grave, if he could. King dreamt of a time when his children would be seen, not for their color, but for their character.
What’s been striking about this election is the perception among many that anytime character issues come up with Obama, they are pushed aside, not investigated, claimed as racist and relegated to the back burner. For many, Obama received a vote based on the color of his skin and not the content of his character. Surely, there are many who voted for Obama because of their ideological beliefs and that is what should be done and that is Democratic and should be respected.
But when 93% of African Americans (reported exit polling data from North Carolina) vote for Obama and many others vote for him (including high ranking politicians) on the basis of his skin color, doesn’t that fly in the face of that for which King stood for and gave his life? Would King not be shouting from the grave, “You still haven’t gotten it! It’s equality based on our rights as humans and the magnitude of our character that counts, not the tone of our skin!”
When I voted for Alan Keyes in the Presidential primary several years ago, I did so not because he is black, but for the content of his character. Sad, how there was never enthusiasm for him and there was never any major celebration of the achievement of a black man running for President just a few years ago. But then again, it was not about color but character.
Congratulations to Barack Obama for his victory. He inherits a big mess and a lot of problems. He has given many people hope and that should be commended. Our country continues to be divided and seems to have lost its moral compass. Let’s hope from here on out, judgments, opinions and commentary will be made based on the character and man that one is and one becomes, not on the shade of skin color.