From the Orlando Sentinel:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. predicted the United States would have a black president, but his timing was a bit off. He saw the milestone coming a lot sooner.
You can see a clip of King’s prediction on “BBC World News America” at 7 tonight.
“Robert Kennedy, when he was attorney general, said that he could imagine the possibility of a Negro President in the United States within perhaps 40 years. Do you think this is at all realistic?”
King said: “Well, let me say first that I think it is necessary to make it clear that there are Negroes who are presently qualified to be president of the United States. There are many who are qualified in terms of integrity, in terms of vision, in terms of leadership ability. But we do know that there are certain problems and prejudices and mores in our society which make it difficult now. However, I am very optimistic about the future. Frankly, I have seen certain changes in the United States over the last two years that surprise me. I’ve seen levels of compliance with the Civil Rights Bill and changes that have been most surprising. So, on the basis of this, I think we may be able to get a Negro president in less than 40 years. I would think that this could come in 25 years or less.”
While MLK was a bit more optimistic than RFK, given the state of race relations in America at the time, I find it a bit surprising that they would have thought an African-American could become President in such a relatively short period of time. Personally, I didn’t think I’d live to see it happen – though I’m as happy as I can be that I am, especially since it’s a man I think has the potential to be an excellent president (and not just in comparison to Bush – that’s a benchmark just about anyone with a pulse could clear.)
I’m finding myself, tonight, feeling like I’m holding my breath. There’s no doubt that there are any number of miscreants and – to borrow a phrase – “evildoers” who do not want to see “President Obama” become a reality, and while I don’t think anything will actually happen, there’s still a part of me that’s concerned that someone may try to disrupt the proceedings or – worse – assassinate Obama.
It’s a bit like it was when the calendar changed over to 2000 – so much worry over whether the computers of the world would keep working or not, yet when the day came – I think largely due to the fact that there’d been so much concern expressed about the possible problems and people took the time to try to prevent them – really, nothing happened. And that was pretty much what I expected – I had a bit of doubt, but no serious worries that anything major would go wrong. I seem to be in much of the same mindframe for tomorrow – that the knowledge that someone, somewhere is going to at the very least WANT to try something – will have prompted the Secret Service, FBI, DC police and/or whomever else might be of assistance to have the absolute best security plan in place and have been working to track down any threats they may have become aware of – so that when the time comes, our new President will be safe, the inauguration will happen without trouble, and we can finally start moving out of the shadow we’ve been under for the last 8 years.
Tonight, though, all I can do is ask that Odin, Thor, Frejya, Tyr and the rest of the Aesir and Vanir will place Obama under their protection, give him the strength, the wisdom and the sense of justice he’ll need in the coming years, to be the great leader he has the potential to be.