December 29th, 2008
10:03 AM ET

Yes, we can overcome race issues

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/27/obama.gaza/art.obamaeconomy.gi.jpg]

Annette Gordon-Reed
Special to CNN

By now, it has become almost a cliché: "I never thought I'd live to see it happen."

That common reaction to the election of Barack Obama, an African-American, to the presidency of the United States captures much about the country's troubled racial history.

Black people have been a presence on the North American continent from the early 1600s, and the 1500s if you count the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine, Florida.

Yet, the fact that we were brought to America as slaves and had to wage a centuries-long battle for freedom - and then for civic and civil rights - has often shaped perceptions about what is and is not possible for blacks to achieve.

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Is it possible that race has put our nation at economic risk by not using the most intelligent minds regardless of race.

    December 29, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  2. JC- Los Angeles

    As a registered Independent who voted for Obama and as a sound minded individual who does not judge people by race, it's troubling to continually hear members of the black community couch issues along racial lines.

    The American people have voted and they overwhelmingly voted for Obama; regardless of skin color, they elected Obama; period.

    I have never once heard a Jewish friend say that he or she was held back by the Holocaust; perhaps the black community should take note and collectively move forward.

    December 29, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  3. Arachnae

    I believe we will eventually – possibly in my lifetime – get over the whole 'race' thing. However, I (sadly) believe we will find another group to denigrate and be suspicious of – separating humanity into 'us' and 'them' is what we do. It's going to take an incursion of extraterrestials to bring the whole planet together – outsiders to take the place of the current 'thems'.


    December 29, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  4. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    I too, voted based on issues, the fact that Bush/Cheney LIED about the reasons to attack Iraq was enough for me to never vote Republican again. Add that to the vile hateful campaign McCain ran, and the constant fear and division spewed, that was enough for me! I voted for President-elect Obama not because he is black, but because he was the MOST brilliant, has new ideas and a new way of doing things. He offers to untie our Nation, not tear it down!

    Americans REJECTED the politics of lies, hate, fear and division that the Republicans & their mouthpieces spew!

    December 29, 2008 at 11:50 am |
  5. Annie Kate

    I voted on the issues – the candidate that proposed the best solutions and seemed the most likely to be able to implement sweeping change was the one I voted for – it just so happened that he was black. I got very tired of the "us vs. them" mentality that went on through the election and campaigning. I hope now that the choice is made we can all support this President and his policies on how to bring back greatness to the US.

    December 29, 2008 at 11:08 am |