Today we sit here having never fully expected this day to happen. Despite our political differences, we are full of excitement because today we witnessed progress that is possible only in this place we call America. Though we are full of joy, it would be irresponsible of us as Americans and as world citizens not to question whether or not the dream of justice and equality for all echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King has indeed been achieved.
No man can deny that the election of Barack Obama has shaken America at its deepest core. Things that were not possible 40 years ago, in this same country we love, are now being achieved. The goals set during the times of the Civil Rights movement are now being met and surpassed. Yet, we must not be complacent and think that the ills and woes of discrimination and injustices that have plagued our country are now immediately over.
The challenge issued by Dr. King was not only a call for racial equality, but it was a dictum calling on America to be the beacon of light to the rest of the world as it guaranteed freedom and justice for all people.
Obama’s election proves that America has collectively ascended beyond hating an individual because of skin color. This election illustrates that we are becoming a society that evaluates a person’s ability based on their intellect, their passion and their character. However, the fact of the matter is that we have not reached a level of equality for all … yet.
And though we have not reached a level of equality for all, I have the ultimate conviction that we will one day reach that day of “so what.” People across the world will say:
So what she is a woman;
So what he came from a broken home;
So what her mother did drugs;
So what he is not one of the most financially elite in the country;
So what she is Hindu;
And so what he is Muslim.
However, at this moment, though the dream echoed in history at the Lincoln Memorial finally reached the White House walls…our work is not yet finished. And as Dr. King said before “we will not [and should not] be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Ultimately, this election has shown, as Wake Forest alumnus Terryl Dozier puts it, that it is time for us to get beyond “Yes We Can, and Yes We Will to Yes We Are Doing” … what it takes to make John Winthrop’s shining hill a shining hill for everyone.
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