Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 10, 2013

HAMILTON: Kennedy, King and Kilmer's "post-racial America"

Niagara Gazette — I suppose that it is only fitting that Barack Obama’s second term Inauguration Day shares the national holiday of Martin Luther King’s birthday. To many, the Obama inauguration is the culmination, at least in part, of King’s dream.

But, it is only a part of it.

King’s Dream was not simply about America having a black president. In fact, black Americans have made more civil rights gains under white presidents than we have under Obama, and Obama swearing his Presidential Oath with both King’s and Abraham Lincoln’s bibles is a testament, of sorts, to that.

King’s dream was more about a “post-racial America” — a once, often repeated phrase of Obama’s — than it was about a single person standing as a dubious icon of such. For you see, it took a lot of ‘previously-post-racial encounters,’ by millions and millions of Americans, in order for Obama to have been elected in the first place. And if we are going to continue to change this nation into more of King’s Dream, then it will take millions and millions more such one-on-one encounters for that to happen.

Additionally, both blacks and whites will have to be open and honest about how they feel really about race.

You can say what you will about Dixie-Americans, both blacks and whites; but they have long understood how each other felt about race. The stars and bars still fly both atop of the statehouse of Mississippi and from hundreds of thousands of trailers and pickup trucks throughout the south. Yet, educated southern blacks are able to progress seemingly faster and higher than the northern blacks of Yankee-America; and northern cities like Detroit, Buffalo and Niagara Falls are losing its brightest black minds to places like Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte.

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