Barack Obama's presumptive nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate is perhaps most starkly contrasted with the unbridled hatred encountered by African American politicians during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period between 1865 and 1877.
The Los Angeles Sentinel, the oldest and most influential African American-owned newspaper on the West Coast, celebrates Senator Obama's accomplishment.
"America Believes in Change," Los Angeles Sentinel, June 4, 2008:
From slave ships to Selma, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Rosa Parks, from Shirley Chisholm to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and now to Illinois Senator Barack Obama who became the great beneficiary of the many struggles of African Americans as the first Democratic Presidential candidate in the History of America.
To say that it has been a long time coming could not even be considered an understatement since it was never considered a possibility to begin with that a Black man would stand a chance to command the highest office in the nation.
However, here we are more than 40 years after Blacks were first allowed the right to vote in 1965 that Obama sits poised and ready to lead America into an evolution of change.
After five grueling months of a Democratic primary that unveiled the ugly wounds of racism and pitted a former First Lady whose last name -- Clinton -- stood for the closest Black President the nation would know, Obama defied all conventional logic and withstood one assault after another to end the historic campaign on Tuesday.
Former slave Abram Colby served as a Republican in the Georgia state legislature during Reconstruction. In 1869, he and his family were assaulted by the Ku Klux Klan, whose attempt to frighten Colby away from politics ultimately proved unsuccessful. Three years later, Colby testified before the U.S. House and Senate in an investigation into "The Conditions and Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States."
"Testimony of Abram Colby," The Conditions and Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, U.S. Congress, 1872:
Colby: On the 29th of October 1869, [the Klansmen] broke my door open, took me out of bed, took me to the woods and whipped me three hours or more and left me for dead. They said to me, "Do you think you will ever vote another damned Radical ticket?" I said, "If there was an election tomorrow, I would vote the Radical ticket." They set in and whipped me a thousand licks more, with sticks and straps that had buckles on the ends of them.
Question: What is the character of those men who were engaged in whipping you?
Colby: Some are first-class men in our town. One is a lawyer, one a doctor, and some are farmers. They had their pistols and they took me in my night-clothes and carried me from home. They hit me five thousand blows. I told President Grant the same that I tell you now. They told me to take off my shirt. I said, "I never do that for any man." My drawers fell down about my feet and they took hold of them and tripped me up. Then they pulled my shirt up over my head. They said I had voted for Grant and had carried the Negroes against them. About two days before they whipped me they offered me $5,000 to go with them and said they would pay me $2,500 in cash if I would let another man go to the legislature in my place. I told them that I would not do it if they would give me all the county was worth.
The worst thing was my mother, wife and daughter were in the room when they came. My little daughter begged them not to carry me away. They drew up a gun and actually frightened her to death. She never got over it until she died. That was the part that grieves me the most.
Question: How long before you recovered from the effects of this treatment?
Colby: I have never got over it yet. They broke something inside of me. I cannot do any work now, though I always made my living before in the barber-shop, hauling wood, etc.
Question: You spoke about being elected to the next legislature?
Colby: Yes, sir, but they run me off during the election. They swore they would kill me if I stayed. The Saturday night before the election I went to church. When I got home they just peppered the house with shot and bullets.
Question: Did you make a general canvas there last fall?
Colby: No, sir. I was not allowed to. No man can make a free speech in my county. I do not believe it can be done anywhere in Georgia.
Question: You say no man can do it?
Colby: I mean no Republican, either white or colored.