Magazine article The Christian Century

Good News

Magazine article The Christian Century

Good News

Article excerpt

IT'S THE DAY AFTER the election, and I am clicking around on one of the many interactive maps of the nation available on the Internet. I've found one that shows, in reds and blues, how every single county in the nation voted. You click on a state and the data for each county appear, down to the very last vote.

Although Barack Obama has won the election decisively, my home state, North Carolina, is still too close to call. I move my cursor around the eastern part of the state, looking for my hometown.

Thirty-eight years ago, when I was going into the second grade, the courts ordered my town to get serious about integrating the schools. Like many southern towns, mine had for years resisted the demands of Brown v. Board of Education with a "school choice" plan. Now faced with a court order, my town refused to open the schools. Choosing no school for anyone over integrated classrooms, the town kept the schools closed for months.

Finally I find my home county, and the voting statistics pop up on my screen: Obama carried it by a margin of nearly 4 percent.

I move the mouse north and west, searching for the county about 90 miles from my hometown where my family used to visit a small Trappist monastery. For years a billboard stood at the county line, proclaiming "The Ku Klux Klan Welcomes You." I roll the mouse over a red county, but that's not it. I keep rolling, and eventually I find it. A blue county. Obama carried it by a margin of 7 percent.

All across the country, people are telling stories like these, stories of change you can see and even quantify. The big story of the change this election represents is made up of countless smaller stories: stories of struggle and sacrifice, stories of courage, stories of communities gradually choosing a new narrative in which to live.

This is not to say that every vote for Obama or McCain had only one meaning, or that racism has suddenly been eradicated in the United States, or that we have finished with the work of coming to terms with the legacy of racism in our nation and in our lives.

But the stories of change that people are sharing around the country make stunningly evident the fact that change is possible. In the light of this election, we can see once more how indispensable to the good of this nation the struggle for civil rights has been and continues to be. …

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