Joe Biden quotes
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
So many thoughts and emotions came up for us, far too many to relate in this brief space. But some of the more salient bear noting, especially those that reminded me most poignantly of my own journey to this place of new-found hopefulness.
I grew up in a somewhat segregated small town in Central Indiana in the 1940's and 1950's, where African -Americans could go to public schools and participate in athletics, but could not swim in the local public pool, eat at the local drugstore lunch counter, or even try out for cheerleader. Racial epithets and covert prejudice were common, and some neighboring towns were widely known to be off-limits to Blacks after dark. I was extremely fortunate, however, to have had tolerant and accepting parents, and enough open-minded adults in the community that I felt I could and did develop some life-long friendships and attachments to several of my Black classmates (all of whom went on to impressive careers as lawyers,or school teachers, or ministers,or community leaders, etc).
I joined a fraternity while in college that had, it turned out, a national, de facto prohibition against admitting Blacks. None of the fraternities in my college accepted Blacks, and unfortunately few Blacks chose to attend my college.
I spent almost four years after college in the US Navy, almost all of it in Georgia and Virginia in the early sixties. I was introduced to Southern segregationist politics in
When I took my first (and only) law firm job in 1969, I learned that I would be joining an incoming class that had the first Black lawyer in the firm's then 120 year history (he later became with me a partner, a State Senator in Connecticut, president of the National Council of Christians and Jews, and remains one of my best friends .He was a delegate this week to the Convention, too)Happily, my firm has since taken leadership roles over the years to advance the opportunities for lawyers and staff of all colors and gender, so that now I think I can safely say that diversity is the norm, not the exception for us.
I set this brief history out to simply remind myself of how far we have come in this country (and in my own life) in the struggle to achieve racial justice. And to remind myself that Barack Obama, and hundreds of the delegates to the Denver Convention this week, had to overcome in their lives much of the prejudice and discrimination I just described. But we also were repeatedly reminded this week of how many miles we still have to go before we sleep, not only to achieve racial justice, but social, economic, and gender justice as well.