Last year Naomi Tutu and I met on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to keep vigil on the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Friends joined us from around the country. We asked the visitors gathered there: "What keeps us from living the Dream?" Most folks spoke of fear. Some spoke of ignorance.
John Hope Franklin lived through most of the twentieth century. He was a gentle man, a scholar, an activist, and a truth-teller. He studied history and he helped to make it.
I took my 11-year-old daughter to the Cheetah Girls concert a week after Election Day. Stood in line for 20 minutes with other moms to buy her overpriced popcorn and soda. Forked over the rest of the money in my pocket for a poster and some laminated thing dangling from a lanyard. Sat through throngs of tweens screaming "girl power" in upper octaves.
It's a better country than I thought it was. I honestly wouldn't have thought this possible. I guess I would have agreed with the older generation of African Americans in my neighborhood: This day would never come in our lifetimes-but here it is.
We waited for 30 minutes. Standing, awkward, we looked up at the board. When I arrived at Penn Station the board said train #167, enroute to Washington D.C., "25 mins late"... Five minutes later, "30 mins late." The terminal filled up, more people standing -- waiting ... and wondering if the others hovering with backpacks and napsacks and yoga mats were all waiting for the same thing.
I'm 52, and I've had a great first half-century of life (and am looking forward to the next). But this inaugural week I feel an extraordinary happiness. Younger people can understand it to a great degree, but I think many folks my age and older