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:
NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
Newsday: ‘Experts: Plane that crashed had prior engine problem’
An aircraft that aviation experts say is the same one that crash-landed in the Hudson River Thursday experienced engine problems in mid-flight just two days before, according to passengers.
Whether that problem had any role in Thursday’s crash of the same plane remained unclear, but the [prior] incident on Jan. 13 proved a harrowing experience for passengers.
N.Y. Post: ‘CONEY IS. PLAN BITES NATHAN’S’
Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Who Won the War?
Israel Touts Overwhelming Victory, Critics on the Right Disagree’
New Yorker: ‘A Lonesome Death’ (The Wire‘s David Simon)
Crain’s New York Business: ‘Is Cablevision meddling in Newsday’s coverage?’
N.Y. Daily News: ‘Student auctions her virginity, bids reportedly reached $3.7M’
N.Y. Post: ‘GOV: I’M CLUELESS ON SENATE CHOICE’
N.Y. Times: ‘For the Jobless, Hope and Fear for a New Day’
N.Y. Daily News: ‘New York to lead U.S. in job losses’
N.Y. Daily News: ‘NY, TX top list of states with strong housing markets’
N.Y. Post: ‘TEEN STABBED AT GORY 3-D HORROR MOVIE’
New York: ‘Barack Obama, Party of One’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Fiat to Take Stake in Chrysler’
Crain’s New York Business: ‘BAM launching $300M capital campaign’
New Yorker: ‘Back Issues’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Gazans Rally Behind Hamas’
N.Y. Daily News: ‘Inauguration means big bucks for prostitutes, coke dealers’
N.Y. Times: ‘Bush Commutes 2 Border Agents’ Sentences’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Deficits Restrict Obama as His Promises Come Due’
N.Y. Daily News: ‘Nearly 1/2 of all women and 1/3 of men prefer the Internet to sex’
Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Hebrew School for All?’
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.
From the Wall Street Journal‘s Brody Mullins:
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.
Jewish Daily Forward: ‘The Gargantuan Gonif’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Cuomo Subpoenas Madoff Investor’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Vienna Banker in Spotlight as Madoff Fallout Spreads’
Jewish Daily Forward: ‘The Long Arm of Halacha: Jewish Law and the Madoff Scandal’
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 20, 2009