There are so many emotions flooding through me tonight, with the great — even if long expected — news that Barack Obama is president-elect. He’s the right man for a crucial time for our country. His talents are extraordinary, and his race certainly isn’t the most remarkable thing about Obama. But the most visibly momentous aspect of Obama’s election is certainly his race. It would have been unthinkable that a black man could become president a short while ago. I have some friends, in fact, who were convinced a few months ago that it couldn’t happen.
The only sadness I have on this great night is that neither of my parents survived to see it. Both of them devoted a good portion of their life — at great personal cost — to fighting injustice and inequality. My father died in 1990 and my mother in 1994. I have no doubt that neither would believe that less than 20 years later a young black man from their own city, Chicago, would be elected president.
I equally have no doubt that both of them would have thrown themselves heart and soul into the Obama campaign. They’d worked hard for Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, and that achievement was remarkable at that time. How it pales in comparison to tonight.
Many people have equally personal reflections on tonight’s historic achievement. One of the most moving moments in the coverage I saw tonight was the civil rights great John Lewis on MSNBC: