Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October 14, 2008

     On this day, back in 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  What a different America that was! 
     1964, for younger readers, was the year the Civil Rights Act passed--no more legal segregation in the South, no more segregated trains or buses, no more--well, lots of stuff. And the next year the Voting Rights Act passed.  Look at how that has changed the country.
     A black man is running for president -- likely, many now say, to win.  The New York Times has a story today which starts with a black woman who's running for reelection to the state legislature in New Hampshire.  Blacks are less than 1% of the population in the district, but she's expected to win.  And there's a lot more of that than there used to be.
     In 2001, about 16% of the country's black state legislators represented mostly white districts. By 2007, that was up to about 30%.  About a quarter of them represent districts in which blacks are 20% of the population or less.  And there are black mayors now in lots of mostly white cities--places like Asheville, North Carolina, and Columbus, Ohio.  
     The country is, by just about any measure, less racist than it used to be. Are there still racists among us?  Of, course, but they are fewer than they used to be.
     One of the songs the civil rights marchers sang back in Dr. King's time went, "Keep on a-walkin', gonna keep on a-walkin', till we get to freedom land."   We're not there yet, but we are walking.  I think Dr. King would be pleased.   

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