2008: Throwing Prejudice Aside: It Has Been America's Challenge to Overcome Its Long, Shameful History of Racism

By Johnson, Haynes | American Heritage, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

2008: Throwing Prejudice Aside: It Has Been America's Challenge to Overcome Its Long, Shameful History of Racism


Johnson, Haynes, American Heritage


SHORTLY BEFORE 9:30 P.M. on the night of November 4, 2008, television voter projections "called" the kingmaker state of Ohio for Barack Obama, virtually assuring his election as the 44th president of the United States. But not for another hour and a half, until the polls closed on the West Coast, was he declared the winner, news that set off countrywide celebrations. People poured out of their homes into the streets and parks. Many wept at a profound sense of what this moment meant to them and their nation: a sense of something historically transforming that transcended political affiliation and ideological conflict, geography, and voter age. On the roster of decisive moments in U.S. history, the election of America's first African American president now ranks as the grand finale.

Obama's election did not signal an end to racial prejudice and discrimination. Nor did it mean that he will become one of America's great presidents; at this writing, his record of achievement is far too slim, the issues of the day too contentious, to determine his ultimate ranking. That record awaits the judgment of history. But his election did signal a definitive answer to the great question that has plagued America since its founding: whether Americans could put aside their prejudice and choose a black person as their leader.

Since 1619, when a battered Dutch privateer beat around Cape Henry, tacked slowly up the James River, and dropped anchor off Jamestown to deposit the first African American slaves on the continent, race relations have affected the character of the United States more than any other factor, leaving an indelible stain on American democracy. Black slaves laid the cornerstones for the White House and the Capitol, were sold like cattle in a huge slave market that stood on the site where the National Archives now houses the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and became the source of bloodshed, civil war, discord, and discrimination that plagued the nation throughout its history, dishonoring its professed democratic principles of equality. It has thus been America's challenge to demonstrate it can overcome the long, shameful history of racism. That was the final lesson of the 2008 election, by far the most extraordinary and significant for its historical stakes that I have covered. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

2008: Throwing Prejudice Aside: It Has Been America's Challenge to Overcome Its Long, Shameful History of Racism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.