Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bill Moyers Journal: Historian Eric Foner and Legal Scholar Patricia J. Williams on the Significance of the 2008 Presidential Election

Historian Eric Foner and Legal Scholar Patricia J. Williams
Bill Moyers Journal (PBS)

The special signifigance of the 2008 election to a nation that has journeyed from a founding constitution that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person to electing a black president was not lost on even President-elect Obama's political opponents.
In his concession speech on election night, Senator John McCain spoke of it, "This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight." As did President Bush, in remarks following the election, "They chose a president whose journey represents a triumph of the American story: a testament to hard work, optimism and faith in the enduring promise of our nation. Many of our citizens thought they would never live to see that day. This moment is especially uplifting for a generation of Americans who witnessed the struggle for civil rights with their own eyes and four decades later see a dream fulfilled."

In his own victory speech, President-elect Obama also put historical context to the moment, as seen through the life of one of his supporters, 106-year-old African-American woman Ann Nixon Cooper. Cooper was born one generation away from slavery, and lived through the century that saw the Jim Crowe south, two world wars, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights Movement.

Bill Moyers sits down with Columbia University professor Eric Foner, who specializes in political and African-American history, and University of Wisconsin history professor Will Jones, who specializes in 20th Century America, to discuss the historic implications of electing Barack Obama.

To Listen to the Conversation and Access More Resources

No comments: