Countdown to Equality?

Avis Jones-DeWeeverResearch Director, National Council Of Negro Women

Sitting adjacent to the reflecting pool before the Lincoln Memorial, it is as if I hear the echoes of those brave souls who walked these same grounds over forty years ago. Those brave Americans who came together to demand freedom from the tyranny of an unjust and dangerously unchecked Jim Crow. The ones who envisioned an America that could one day live up to its grandest ideals, despite the on-going reality of daily indignities and home-grown terrorist acts that were not only typically ignored, but often times perpetrated by those who held in their hands an unfettered responsibility to enforce the rule of law. It was here, that Americans came together and demanded substantive and lasting change. That day has since become encapsulated in one speech, now forever woven into the American fabric as Martin's Dream.

And so, as I sit here, awaiting the official kick-off of the Inauguration of our 44th President of the United States, I find myself struck by that same warm, yet far too unfamiliar feeling which I originally experienced upon attending my first Obama rally well over one year ago. What struck me from that day to this is just how "different" all of us who braved the cold were. We were truly a cross-section of America, Black and White, Asian, Latino, and Native, young, old, rich, poor, male, and female. We were, what America never was to me--a truly inclusive experience.

Of course we're not where we need to be. Statistics point to a resurgence of white flight. Unarmed Black men are still being cut down in the prime of their lives by overzealous police acts. And far too many children have their potential possibly forever stunted by woefully underfunded and substandard schooling. But as I await the start of tonight's celebration, I know beyond any equivocation, that America's promise will be fulfilled. And if we have learned anything from the amazing story of Obama's victory, it is the profound importance of belief. On this day, I know, we shall overcome.