An eye on history

Published 9:03 pm Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My cell phone was ringing almost immediately.

If I hadn’t been watching the election coverage for myself, I still would have been able to tell the moment Barack Obama was declared the next president of the United States: My phone was getting text messages, picture messages and phone calls at that very moment.

Without a doubt, being witness to the U.S. electing its first African-American president will be a memory – a hallmark – for my peers.

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It will be an event that will be recounted and retold to the delight of future generations wanting to hear the story of their country’s progress and advancement.

Regardless of party affiliation, it’s a milestone.

Similarly, Suffolk has seen its own history.

As you all probably know by now, Linda Johnson has become the first directly elected mayor of the city of Suffolk.

This comes on the heels of her appointment two years ago when she became the first woman to ever hold the office of mayor in Suffolk.

Just as Obama’s accomplishment in this historic race is celebrated, so should Johnson’s.

It has still been less than 90 years since women have been given the right to vote.

It was the 19th amendment, passed in 1920, that allowed women to have a say in an election. That was 50 years after the 15th amendment was added to the Constitution allowing black men the right to vote (keeping in mind prejudiced literacy tests and poll taxes made this task more difficult for many).

Women have had to face a different type of prejudices, fight separate stereotypes and prevail over their own set of injustices. And seeing competent, capable and qualified women take seats of power should be an encouragement to young women everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not much of a feminist – nor am I much of a Democrat – but when landmarks such as these are reached, they should be talked about and celebrated.

Parents and teachers should talk with their children about the history of this nation — and this city ­— to give their kids a better comprehension of the enormity of these elections.

Not to sound like an Oprah sound bite, but we should be looking to our elders now to hear how far we have come, because it really does give us a glimpse into the future’s possibilities.

It makes you wonder what barriers will be broken down next, what glass ceilings will be shattered in 2012 and where this city will be in four years.