Cheers to the first of many more to come

DKS Editors

A relative newcomer to Washington, Sen. Barack Obama, stood outside the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., February 10, 2007 and declared his presidential intentions.

One year, three months and 24 days – and countless miles on the campaign trail – later, Obama finally received the necessary number of delegates June 3 to clinch the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election.

But, really, it’s been an even longer time coming. It’s been since the Civil War freed blacks from slaveholders in the South. It’s been since Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on the bus. And, it’s been since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed his “I Have a Dream” speech during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

The United States finally has its first black presidential nominee for one of its two major political parties.

Political preferences aside, we couldn’t be happier. The nomination of a black candidate marks a historic moment in the United States’ history and one in which we can all be proud. As the United States heads toward an election during a critical period in American history, it seems fitting that one of the potential presidents-to-be is someone other than a white male.

Although the fight to end racism is far from over, this milestone signifies the progress our nation has made toward a more tolerant environment.

The primary elections speak for themselves. Barack Obama did not just win elections in heavily black-populated states. After all, he won a decisive victory in the Iowa caucuses – a state home to a nearly 95 percent white population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Even the support among younger voters for Barack Obama points to a sign of change. It encompasses a generation that grew up without giving a second thought to the word “integration” as it relates to race. We are the generation poised to break down many existing barriers between races in the United States.

The Democratic nomination of Barack Obama is just one step along the way. Clearly, greater tolerance among Americans helped propel Obama to where he is today in the race for the White House.

Just think: Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player. Nat King Cole was the first black male with his own major network television program, “The Nat King Cole Show.” Ella Fitzgerald was the first black female Grammy Award winner. Douglas Wilder was the first elected black governor.

We all know these people. These names will live on in American history. But who were the second people to earn these coveted positions?

We don’t know. We doubt you do either. That’s because people tend to only remember firsts: first steps, first words, first dates, etc. Seconds become the norm.

Barack Obama has made history as the first black nominee for president. Among the list of firsts for blacks, a presidential nomination is certainly one of the most important achievements. We look forward to seeing many more.

Obama’s nomination serves as a positive reminder of the progress our nation has made toward becoming more colorblind. We hope that someday the presidential nomination of a racial minority won’t be headline news. It will just be the norm.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.