Commentary: A time for all to celebrate

Barack Obama’s election last week as the nation’s first African-American president had a familiar feel.

It felt like the Million Man March except this time people of all races, ethnicities and genders were in it. In the Million Man March, African-American men gathered on Oct. 16, 1995, in Washington, D.C., for responsibility, reconciliation and self-determination.

It was a glorious event, which filled black people nationwide with pride because the peaceful march showed a commitment like no other for what a group could accomplish if it had a unified goal. Obama’s election as the 44th president of the United States has had that same moving, motivating effect on people.

My daughters, my friends — going back to high school and college — and people I don’t even know called, e-mailed and sent text messages bursting with pride, tears and happiness for what Americans had accomplished. To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., we had overcome.

People who called and e-mailed since Nov. 4 reminded me of my Oct. 22 column on the presidential race. I had written that I thought GOP candidate John McCain would win because America was not ready to elect a black president.

I also wrote that I wanted to be wrong, and folks remembered that, too. Missouri sided with McCain, but America passed the diversity test.

Friends and my daughter, Leslie, told me of spontaneous parties and parades in racially mixed neighborhoods of people celebrating Obama’s victory. It took votes from people of all colors for Obama to win.

To read the complete column, visit The Kansas City Star.