The election of Barack Obama was the Lexington and Concord in the latest great battle of race in America. We are a nation at war with itself. For all of our desire to move beyond the narrow confines of many of the events of our tragic history, we cannot. The president's election gave new life to what had been lying dangerously dormant for the better part of 50 years.
In the spring of 1954, like so many Black families, mine waited anxiously for the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. My father and I talked about it and what it would mean for my future and the future of millions of other Black children who were attending segregated but unequal Black schools. He died the week before Brown was decided. But I and many other children were able, in later years, to walk through the new and heavy doors that Brown slowly and painfully opened. Now, the most recent findings from the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Data Collection, called the "richest, fullest" collection so far for measuring education access and equity in our nation's public schools, show many children are still receiving an unequal education. This is the unfinished work of the Civil Rights Movement.