Monday, January 19, 2009

A Giant Leap for Mankind - Obama's Inauguration

U.S. Presidential Inaugurations are huge events, sort of like a royal coronation or wedding. Obama's inauguration on Tuesday, may get a record number of viewers for his inaugural speech, if the hype and excitement leading up to it are an indication. It is very exciting. In fact, if there's a scalper out there with one of the 28,000 seat tickets, please leave message. Kidding aside, this event obviously so historic, has actually brought hope to people everywhere, and for the moment at least, abundant happiness to millions, especially African-Americans.

One of their own has made it to the top - who can't be happy for them! In interviews they will say that they never dreamed of seeing a black president, and the reaction is still almost disbelief, as if it's too good to be true - yet they are celebrating it for what it is, a giant leap for mankind.

Just over 200 years ago, the first President, George Washington, inaugurated in 1789, would never have had the idea of a black president circulate in one brain neuron. His family were slave owners, and he inherited 11 after his father died in 1741, and by 1774, he was paying taxes on 134 slaves.

In a way African-Americans were in the White House in Washington's day. He had brought slaves 7 slaves to New York (then the U.S. capital) in 1789 to work in his household, and 9 to Philidelphia in 1790. (The White House was constructed between 1792-1800.)

By Abe Lincoln's second inauguration, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862, which freed slaves, had been implemented two years previous. Though the slaves were told they were free, it still took many decades later for real equality to be actualized in American society.

It was not until the 1960's that all impediments to the black vote were removed. For about 90 years after slavery was abolished, blacks for all intents and purposes could not vote, though, they could - if certain conditions were met. For example, after Lincoln's death, it was legislated that all voters had to be literate. Practically none of the slaves were, nor were their parents or grandparents.

Legislators also introduced laws that only permitted voting eligibility if a poll tax had been paid, thus, making blacks and even poor whites out of luck. By the early 1960s all voting impediments were removed. Even just 40 plus years ago, giving more equality to blacks caused many years of blacklash, rioting, murder, and continuation of deeply rooted prejudices.

How times have changed. African-Americans will view themselves differently, with more pride than ever, and they will have a world full of company. The dreams of equality of peoples have been realized. In a much repeated time of economic crisis, the inauguration of America's first black president is worth the traditional elaborate pomp and circumstance that surrounds this momentous political and societal shift in attitude. It's such a positive hopeful happening in a time when too much hope has been spent and not saved for the future.

Related: The election that made the world smile

2 comments:

CptnJack said...

Hey CC,

Great article!
We are witness to a very historic occassion here....BO blowing some 150mill for the bash!!
I'm sure it's worth it......."Change has come";I guess?

CptnJack

Charles Cheeseman said...

Hi Captain J. and thanks. A majority of U.S. voters decided to accept BO as President, and that is a shift, reflecting an attitude change particularly among the youth voters of all races. That change needed to come and I think that's mainly what people are pretty happy about.

He will feel the weight of the role once the ceremonies are over. The challenge are huge, but I think this person is capable to handle them - time will tell.