It was a good sign this week of how far we as a nation have come in regard to equality when, on a day set aside to celebrate the dream of a civil rights leader, we also saw the re-inauguration of the nation’s first black president.
Say what you will about the policies of President Barack Obama. They haven’t exactly been good for our area, and his continual declination to visit Appalachia for himself doesn’t speak well to any notion that our issues will be a focus in his second term. But the significance of his presidency, made possible by the majority of the nation’s voters, is not lost on us.
In the grand scheme of things, not a lot of time has passed since slavery was outlawed in our nation, and even less has passed since non-whites and women were given the right to vote. So in a sense, we’re still very much a nation going through its infancy in the practice of equality. We’ll likely stumble from time to time, but we’ll get there in the end.
Never the less, we can foresee a time now, though many years away and probably not in our lifetimes, when America’s racist past is but something our young people read about in history books. It is a future when our people know that this type of inequality could never happen to them, because our nation as a whole will have risen above the faults of bigotry.
And while we can foresee a future like that now, it should remain a priority for our country to never forget our past, lest we be doomed to repeat it.
So this week, as we as a nation work to dig ourselves out of this economic hole, it’s is important to realize that in the past we’ve pulled ourselves out from other holes much bigger than this one, and it’s something we can do again. But it will take working together to do it.
As Dr. King once said, we must learn to live together as brothers, or we can perish together as fools.
— The Hazard Herald