Obama winning Virginia has special significance for me. My uncle, my father's brother, was a Navy lifer who spent most of his career in the Norfolk, Va area, which is only a seven hour drive from my hometown in New Hampshire. As a child in the 1960's, we visited there frequently and I stayed there for school vacations as well. NH and Virginia, at that time, you might as well gone to another planet even tho they are separated by a short length of coastline.
This was pre-Great Society, there was no welfare or anything for the poorest of these people. Under every overpass there were black people living in make-shift homes, with sheets and blankets for wall. Most disturbing were the ones you met along the way who suffered from the effects of malnutrition, bow-legged with rickets, blind from lack of milk, it seemed like they were everywhere, but what amazed me the most, was that the white people acted as if they pretended not to see them.
The only time they were seen was when the protocols of racism were violated. I remember one incident that really affected me. We stopped at a store in a small Virginia town along the road, this was before the interstates, and as I loitered around the front counter, a young black girl ran from another store across the road, and came up to the counter, saying she needed change for the store across the way, which apparently was owned by the same owner as the one I was in. The white girl working the counter handed her a roll of quarters. Suddenly, from a side room, a burly middle aged white woman came storming out. She started screaming at the white girl, asking her why she gave a "nigger" a roll of quarters, and how NIGGERS should never be trusted with money, and if she ever did it again, she was fired, as would be the person working at the other store who sent the black girl on the errand. it was as if they turned this little girl into a thing, something that was not a person, some blob of jello, left standing there as her entire person was being defined for the rest of the people in the store as something defective. The burly white woman never even talked to the black girl, never even looked at her until the end of the tirade, when she said "now you get your NIGGER ass out of here". It was one of the ugliest things I have ever seen. I was ten years old and I still recall it as if it was yesterday.
Years later in college, I read a book called The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, a black man who described that very thing. That book, and another called "Black Boy", one of the most searing novels I have ever read, by Richard Wright, that and the civil rights era that unfolded thru my teen years, shape much of how I think today. Everytime I hear some Southern Cracker try to define the Old South as some romantic great era gone by, I remember it. I hate that world. I am glad it is gone. God bless America for this day.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
Last edited by FeelTheLove; 11-05-2008 at 10:13 AM.