If you had asked me last year at this time whether an African American could be nominated by either the Republican or Democratic parties for the presidency I would have said you are crazy. It looks like that by the end of the evening the Democratic Party will have accomplished just that. At the same time it is easy to imagine the primary process taking a slightly different turn with the result being the first female presidential candidate – a significant achievement in its own right.
Regardless of your political affiliation or feelings about how Obama has handled the campaign and the many controversial moments, you should feel proud as an American that we are now at a point in our nation's history where such an outcome is possible. The historian in me can't help but place this in historical context. Two African Americans served in the U.S. Senate during Reconstruction, both representing the state of Mississippi. The first, Hiram Revels was elected in 1870 and sat in Jefferson Davis's old seat while Blanche K. Bruce, a former slave, was elected in 1875. Since then, only three African-Americans–Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts (1967-1978), Carol Moseley Braun (1993-1998) and Barack Obama (2004-)–have held seats in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, 121 African Americans have served since 1868. On the state level only one African American served as governor in Louisiana during the winter of 1872-73 before Douglas Wilder of Virginia was elected in 1989.
This nation is turning an important corner tonight and I couldn't be prouder. As of the writing of this post, Obama is only 11 delegates shy of the nomination. Finally, we are one step closer to getting rid of the current occupant of the White House.