Barack Obama



The day after the presidential election, one of my senior thesis students came to see me to discuss the progress of her historical research. She had campaigned door-to-door with other Harvard students in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. She was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a political slogan I had not seen before. She explained that her mother had made it for her, proud of her daughter’s political activity, and of her heritage as a person of Hibernian and African American parentage. “BLACK IRISH FOR O’BAMA” it read.

Many of us are the result of the affections of people of different origins for one another. Now we are to have a president who exemplifies this. He is also a man who gives every indication that he will bring a quality to the office that has been missing for the better part of the last sixteen years: dignity.

In January, Barack Obama takes on a next to impossible job at a foully difficult time; but I voted for him, and to note that I wish him well is an understatement. In this election, we have communally taken a step towards the expiation of our gross national shame. We still have a long way to go.