Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Marian Wright Edelman on Yesterday's Election

A cartoon published in the early 1960s depicted a Black boy saying to a White boy: "I'll sell you my chance to be President of the United States for a nickel." At the time the cartoon appeared, Barack Obama was a toddler. There were only five Black Members of Congress and about 300 Black elected officials nationwide. The Voting Rights Act hadn't been passed and the overwhelming majority of Black Southerners were disenfranchised.

It is with great pride that I, along with Americans of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds across our vast nation congratulate President-Elect Obama on his historic election. His road to the White House has led Americans from all walks of life to embrace a new hope for national unity, and this transformational election offers the promise of moving the country in a new direction.

Yesterday's election is a reminder that the United States is still a place of bold ideas and a beacon of hope. It says to every child of color and every poor boy and girl that you belong too, and you do have a future. Throughout America's history, race has been a noose choking our capacity to soar. At a time when we face a great litany of problems, it is moving to see the American people's common sense and faith trump fear. It is truly a triumph that yesterday Americans voted for competence and a new vision, regardless of race.

But President-Elect Obama cannot do the job alone. Leaders are only as good as citizens demand them to be, and we must create a citizens' movement that will fight to provide every child in America with health coverage, that will work to end child poverty, and that will stop funneling children down a prison pipeline that threatens to re-segregate our nation.

Now the real hard work begins. As President-Elect Obama charts his course during this transition period, I urge him to place our nation's children at the center of his administration's priorities. We must fight to create a level playing field for every child in every corner of America and invest in our human capital, which will determine the vibrancy of America`s leadership in the new century. It is a new day in America, and it is a time for all of us to step forward together for children since they own the future.

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman
President, Children's Defense Fund

Children's Defense Fund
25 E St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

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