“Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change.” -- Michelle Obama, Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Although opportunists will try to make much of Michelle Obama's sloppy and unfortunate language, it seems to me that her intention was clear.
Mrs. Obama meant that for the first time in her adult lifetime she is seeing an objectively measurable advancement in civil rights for black Americans.
Most of the key civil rights achievements of the last century occurred before her birth or during her very young childhood. Then, after the Johnson administration ended, black America made few, if any, advancements into mainstream America.
To her, like me, America's great strides away from a racist past of slavery, Jim Crow and discrimination and towards a healed and united future were historical events -- they weren't part of her personal experience as an adult. There have been no great milestones in America's march towards racial equality since her childhood.
Until 2008, when Americans of every color, creed, age and background are pinning their hopes for the nation on black man from Chicago -- a black man who stands on the very brink of becoming the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
Mrs. Obama's language was bungled -- she is the (exhausted) mother of two young girls -- and she should probably apologize and clarify her point.
But her intention was unmistakable: She is as proud of America as she has ever been and probably prouder than she ever expected to be.
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