"The Arc of God's Justice Is Long, But It Does Touch the Earth."
I am particularly proud to be an American on this historic day.
As one who grew up in the bitter racism of a segregated society in south Alabama, I rejoice today that the final color barrier in American life has been broken by the election of the first African-American president in our nation’s history.
People of good will all over our nation, regardless of political party and electoral allegiance, are touched on this historic occasion.
We have endured a most grueling presidential campaign. The genius of democracy has once again been demonstrated in this simmering stewpot called America. 120 million Americans cast votes in calm and security, with not one single reported incident of reprisal. From sea to shining sea, red and yellow, black and white, rich and poor, old and young celebrated their most treasured civic resource: the right to vote.
As Senator McCain put it in his concession speech, with characteristic directness, “The American people have spoken and they have spoken clearly.” He seemed to sense the significance of the moment with his tone of remarkable graciousness and his dramatic conclusion, “Americans never hide from history. We make history."
Senator Obama struck a similar conciliatory note in his acceptance speech, saying of McCain, “He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader."
As Barack Obama was being chosen by the American family to serve as its president for the next four years, we were holding renewal services in the First Baptist Church of Aliceville, Alabama. We were graced by the presence of numerous African-Americans in the congregation, over a couple of dozen. The pastor later told me that this was the most racially integrated worship celebration he has had the privilege of leading as pastor of this fine fellowship.
I have had a line from Dr. King in my mind all day long: "the arc of God's justice in long, but it does touch the earth."
We have come a long, long way on the journey toward justice in this country. Only a short time ago, that day when Americans would be judged “on the strength of their character rather than the color of their skin” remained only a distant dream.
But, today, that dream has become reality.