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What would Jefferson do...
. . . with the news of Barack Obama's election? Historian (and former ICJS Fellow) Joseph J. Ellis wrote an interesting opinion piece in the L.A. Times yesterday addressing this very question:
I never expected to see an African American president in my lifetime. Like the sudden implosion of the Soviet Union, Barack Obama's emergence was unforeseen by a lot of experts who, like me, presumed that America was not ready -- not even close to ready -- to elect a black man as president. Even when he opened up a substantial lead in the polls, several of my black friends warned me not to trust the polls. Racism remained too widespread and virulent in vast swatches of the populace, they insisted. They were wrong. I was wrong. That doesn't mean that the cancer of racism is dead and gone, or even in remission. But it does mean that the promise Thomas Jefferson made at the very start, the one that begins, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," has moved several notches closer to fulfillment.