This glorious day has seen the end of a number of things. An end to the Bush administration. An end to the national shame of endorsement of torture. And as some have said, "An end of an error." We have also seen a brilliant first; the first black man elected to the highest office of the land. And it is this first that has brought an end to something else that many pundits are trying to put a finger on.
Many have said it is an end to segregation, to discrimination, or to racism. These pundits are lofty, but they ignore the reality that many African-Americans face every day throughout the country. Racism isn't going to be defeated by one election. Hatred and bigotry were an undercurrent (and sometimes not so under) throughout the election, and while it has suffered a defeat, it is not gone. The next time an African-American runs for president, the bar will not be as high, but it will still be higher than for a white man.
No, what I believe we saw an end to when Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office is much more subtle. I believe we saw an end to an idea, to an undercurrent of modern culture, that African-Americans can't succeed. Children have been told that in America you can be anything you want to be: astronaut, fireman, or even president. But for African American children, this has always seemed a pipe dream. Only 45 years ago, dogs were sicced on them for attempting to attend school. 30 years ago a president ran on a platform of attacking welfare as handouts for the lazy and unworthy (with an implied "black"). Even this year, we saw a presidential candidate attacked for being black with opponents attempting to diminish him as just another black candidate or as uppity.
But this has come to an end. These children now can look at their chart of presidents and see a black man's face among the 44. They can look on their TVs and see 2 or 3 million people of all races cheering this man on as he takes the reins of power. They know that the words "all men are created equal" are finally being lived up to. And while discrimination and bigotry and hatred haven't ended, when they face these obstacles they will have the strength of knowing that over 60 million of their fellow citizens voted for a man born to an African imigrant, a man who grew up at times on food stamps, and who has the name Barack Hussein Obama.