The polls are not yet closed in the West Coast states, yet it is more than apparent that our next president will be a black person. The candidate, his party and his views aside, it is an interesting moment to be an American.
Though I was not alive at the time, I do have a particular connection to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Al. Having been there, having seen the community, having confronted first-hand the hatred and violence, I am amazed that we have reached this moment. I am a usually optimistic person, but I would venture so far as to say that I am amazed we have reached this moment in my lifetime.
The pundits on TV will tell you over and over that “a new electorate” has been energized and engaged. Accepting this, what else has been able to transcend the issues of race to become more important to the American people?
Does this election signal a shift in priorities for the people? Are we going to value action instead of idealism of past from either political party that merely promoted a different and better future?
How much of the overall status quo is about to be redefined? Both candidates this year stressed the need for change. The president of the National Science Teachers Association is travelling the country describing how “the times, they are a changin’” for science education. In St. Louis this week, the eighth person ascended to the post of superintendent since 2003 vowing to change the way we do business in our public schools. Are we actually ready to change the way we define America in our own eyes and the eyes of the world?
As someone who believes that we must publicly confront the problems of our education system in order to ever realize change, I hope the answer to many of these questions is yes. I think your answer can be yes regardless of political persuasion. To say yes signals we are ready to do what’s right rather than just pay lip service to ideals. Sadly, it’s been business as usual in this country since the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not since then have we been at a tipping point for our country. Not since today do we have a chance to say, “Maybe it’s time to rethink what it is to be American.”