Change Has Come, for Most People

Jan. 20, 2009

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Our housekeeper arrived early this morning, beaming, bearing gifts for my wife and me. Two brightly colored T-shirts with big pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack ObamaBarack ObamaThe youth vote—a unicorn worth hunting in 2016 Instead of being bold, Clinton errs in picking Kaine Washington Post: Trump is a 'unique and present danger' MORE, the words “I Have a Dream” emblazoned across the front. We hugged, and I wore it all day with pride and joy.

I took a walk on the beach before watching the Inauguration ceremonies with friends. Passing joggers raised fists, calling out, “Like your shirt!”

Then I met a neighbor who stopped to say hello. He looked at my shirt and blurted out, “Hey, you got more niggers on your shirt than we have in Mississippi.” Stunned, a moment passed while I decided — punch him in the mouth, or walk away in silence; which he will translate accurately? I concluded, after wondering, “What would Barack Obama counsel here, now?” to turn and walk away.

The vibes all day were palpable — remarkably happy, here and everywhere. But for some people, fewer than when I stood at the Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous, prescient words in 1963, change comes painfully slow; for some, perhaps not at all.


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