All morning I've been receiving emails from my friends around the world congratulating me on the election of Barack Obama as the next President.
This truly is a wondrous moment in American history. To see that chart of past Presidents that Brian Williams was holding up last night, with 43 white faces, and to think the next face on that chart will be Obama's, is truly remarkable.
I was extremely moved last night watching the results roll in. Spontaneous celebrations erupted on the streets of American cities, from Atlanta to Philadelphia to San Francisco. Every time they showed Jesse Jackson with tears streaming down his face it put a lump in my throat.
I love thinking about how Frederick Douglass, or Booker T. Washington, or James Baldwin, or Ralph Ellison, or yes, Martin Luther King Jr. would have felt at that moment. We have so much farther to go, of course, but this is a huge milestone.
I've written about Obama on this blog since 2006, and my enthusiasm and support for him has only grown over that time. I know that once he is confronted with the messy job of governing the bloom will come off the rose... in a year I'm sure he will feel to most Americans like just another politician engaged in the sausage-making that is American politics. Supposedly Obama is worried about the impossible expectations his victory has triggered. But for today at least, I am very proud of my country, and I am filled with, yes, hope for the future.
From Obama's victory speech last night:
"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer...
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date -- in this election -- at this defining moment -- change has come to America."