Can't get enough of Obama's January 17 train ride. Here it is again.
Even before today's inauguration, Barack Obama's whistle-stop trip to D.C. brought the best of two worlds to America.
Besides being just a really cool thing to do — complete with speeches by the mellifluous new president to cheering crowds — that trip was truly astonishing.
As a Oklahoma boy who used to ride his bike to the train station to see the 8:55 Oil Flyer pull into Bartlesville in the '50s, I would sometimes sneak into the "colored" waiting room just to try to soak up the inequality.
I did it when I thought no one was looking, and then I raced outside to take a quick sip at the "colored only" water fountain.
It's not a protest if no one else sees it. I didn't face danger. The worst that could have happened was a scolding by the stationmaster. Big deal. A black person who refused to sit in that waiting room and tried to take his or her place in the regular waiting room would have earned much more than a scowl.
Still, that was as much rebellion as I dared, and it wasn't much, because I was overcome by fear — unlike Rosa Parks, who had to fight off mortal fear to risk the consequences. Nearly a century after "emancipation," she dared to keep her bus seat on December 1, 1955.
And now there's a black president? And he took the train to D.C. in a great, old-fashioned whistle-stop tour? That really is the best of two worlds and just as significant a victory for white Americans as it is for blacks.
No more separate waiting rooms. Black Americans aren't being forced to ride out of town on a rail.
A black president is riding into town. The day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A conjunction that your imagination couldn't have invented.
If you feel like tearing yourself away from today's historic moment, here are some clickables:
New York is about to witness a historic experiment in the nature of Jewish engagement in American society: the planned opening in August 2009 of the city's first Hebrew-themed public school.
The school, to be known as the Hebrew Language Academy, will be organized as a charter school, publicly funded but operated by a private not-for-profit association. It must be open to all applicants regardless of religion or background, and its curriculum is to be strictly secular, with no preaching of religion.
The downfall of Bernard Madoff has claimed a far-flung, new victim: a plan by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to lobby Barack Obama at the inaugural festivities to be a vegetarian.
The animal-welfare organization viewed Mr. Obama's election as a turning point. So when PETA saw that Mr. Obama would win the election last summer, the group began looking for a way to get an audience with Mr. Obama.
Unfortunately, the plan it cobbled together -- which required bidding in an online auction and recruiting a former professional-basketball star/vegan -- also involved an investment firm with ties to Mr. Madoff, the billionaire investor who recently confessed to running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.