"The Civil War is over," said Thomas Friedman in The New York Times. Despite a century of civil rights legislation, Brown v. Board of Education, and Martin Luther King's I-have-a-dream speech, "the Civil War could never truly be said to be ended until America's white majority actually elected an African American as president." Now, under President Barack Hussein Obama, the real reconstruction can begin.
One election won't "solve the problem of race in America," said Matthew Syed in the London Times online, because "bigotry and hatred" are no longer the main issue. The real problem is that, even after the gains of the civil rights movement, black Americans have yet to achieve "social and economic equality." And that "slope remains as steep as ever."
Barack Obama's election won't magically eliminate teen pregnancy or drug abuse, or raise high-school completion rates in the black community, said Henry Louis Gates Jr. in The Root, but don't underestimate the significance of what has just happened. For generations, with all the racism heaped on black people in this country's history, "no one could actually envision a Negro becoming president—'not in our lifetime,' as our ancestors used to say." But the ultimate color line has finally been crossed.
Obama's victory "does not, nor should it, herald a post-racial future," said Michael Eric Dyson in the Los Angeles Times. "But it may help usher in a post-racist future," in which we can finally start deleting "oppression that rests on hate and fear, that exploits cultural and political vulnerability."