Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What just happened the night of June 3rd 2008

I'm reminded of a moment I saw in 1994's Ken Burns PBS series Baseball, when they focused on the arrival of Jackie Robinson. I looked about online for a quote, and came up with a Google Books entry from the book Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports and the American Dream written/edited by Joseph Dorinson. It's in Chapter 9, Mah Nishtanah, by Henry Foner, who remembered watching Robinson come to Ebbets Field to play an exhibition game near about Passover in 1947. That Passover, as the youngest son in the family, it was left to Henry to invoke the four questions (fir kashes) that are asked of the holiday. He asked the first one, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" But before his father could answer, Henry provided his own answer, "Because today, a black man is playing major league baseball."

After 260 plus years, starting in 1619 with a Dutch ship reaching Jamestown with 19 indentured Africans and ending in 1865 with the fall of the Confederacy and an end to slavery, and after 100 years of Jim Crow, segregation, and lynch mobs, and after 40 plus years of fighting over affirmative action and entrenched racism we still find today in pockets of our nation, today is different from all other days. Because today, a black man is an official candidate for the office of President of the United States and unofficial Leader of the Free World.

Depending on how the election turns out, the night of November 4 2008 promises to be an even bigger moment than today.

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