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Michael Eric Dyson
Los Angeles Times
More than half a century ago, Langston Hughes captured the debilitating divide in the destinies of white and black children in his poem "Children's Rhymes": "By what sends / the white kids / I ain't sent: / I know I can't / be PresidentBy what sends / the white kids / I ain't sent: / I know I can't / be President." Forty-six years after Hughes, rapper Tupac echoed that declaration: "And though it seems heaven sent / We ain't ready to have a black president." Today, little more than a decade after Tupac's lament, we are ready for a black president, and the grief of dreams deferred is lifted.
By any measure, this is a monumental day in our nation's history. African Americans are rightly proud. The brutal facts of black existence - slavery, segregation and the stunting of social and political ambition - have dashed the hopes of black progress time and again. The election of Barack Obama symbolizes the resurrection of hope and the restoration of belief in a country that has often failed to treat its black citizens as kin. For millions of blacks abandoned to social neglect and cultural isolation, Obama's words and vision have built a bridge back into the American family.
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