I know it sounds a little cliché but today IS an historic day. Whatever your politics or views on America, the inauguration of President Obama is a great day in their history. I have heard many people complaining about the fact the media are currently obsessed with his “blackness” and that they should be focusing on his policies. Well I suppose that they have a bit of a point but if they concentrate a little harder, i.e. turn the sound up so that they can hear it, they has been plenty of policy debate. The reason that everyone is now talking about his race is that he has won and he is a black man. Who would have thought that in a country that is so racially divided as the US? Consider their history, not their ancient history, but recent history. The civil rights act was only passed in 1964. Malcolm X was murdered in 1965 and Martin Luther King in 1968, these are very recent events. See how far they have come in 44 years, although Martin Luther King did predict that there would be a Black President in 40 years in 1964, not a bad prediction at all it turns out.
There is, of course, symbolism in the place as well. The inauguration will take place in front of a building that was built by slaves and the invited guests and real people will watch from the National Mall, the 2 mile strip of land that runs from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building, which is where slaves were bought and sold. It was also the venue for Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. So a pretty symbolic day all round then for America and the world. I hope everyone has a fantastic day. And whilst everyone celebrates perhaps we should have a quick look at England. It was still alright to put signs up in Hotel windows that said “No Blacks, no Irish” in the 70’s and our politics is still depressingly white but lets not bring down the mood. Let's allow them their day of celebration for tomorrow the work begins.