Local Commentary

News from the Coffin Corner: Delegate Hull’s Richmond Report

New Day Dawns

A new era began this week with the inauguration of our 44th President, Barrack Hussein Obama.

We not only have a new administration, but we witnessed the swearing-in of the first person of color to lead our nation.

That is very meaningful for those of us who lived and went to school when segregation still existed in Virginia.

That was made clear in comments on the House floor on Monday as we celebrated Dr. King’s birthday.

In a moving speech, Delegate Ken Melvin, a 23-year House veteran, discussed the historic nature of the Obama election.

General Assembly Changed

Delegate Melvin, now the senior Black House member, first commented on how things have changed in the General Assembly.

He said that for many years after he was elected, no Black member was put on a conference committee for any bill.

Nor were they appointed to a prestigious House committee until 1994 when the Black Caucus threatened to withhold votes to re-elect the Speaker.

After that, the Speaker appointed three senior Black Caucus members to the Appropriations Committee.

Nation Transformed

Delegate Melvin then spoke about how he and his brother cried on election night when it was clear that Obama had won.

Their 20-something children asked them why they cried. He said that he told them he thought “they would prevent it from happening.”

“Who is ‘they’ and how could ‘they’ prevent it?” the young people asked him. He said that he realized he had his mind in the past.

His children, he added, and all young people have gone beyond that and he then understood that Dr. King’s dream had finally been achieved.

Good God Almighty

Yes, and it is my wish that we may all be free at last of the racial shackles that have bound this nation for 400 years.

It is nice for me to not only to see the person I endorsed for President win, but to see that he truly represents the times that are achangin’.

President Barrack Obama may not achieve greatness, but few Americans would deny him the opportunity to do so.

Another Great American

As we welcome a Chicagoan to the White House, I want to remember another resident of the Windy City who died last fall.

Studs Terkel passed away on Halloween afternoon at the age of 97. He fought for justice and equality throughout his long life.

Born Louis Terkel in New York City on May 16, 1912, he was a child when his family moved to Chicago after his father purchased a rooming house there.

Carl Sandburg called it the “City of Big Shoulders” and Chicago inspired Studs to become the preeminent chronicler of the common man.

He earned a law degree from the University of Chicago, yet he never practiced the craft. But, he honed the skill of listening.

He was an actor, disk jockey, television host, radio host for 45 years, and author of 18 books.

He won the 1985 Pulizer Prize for “The Good War” about World War II. His last book will be published posthumously.

In 1997, he received the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton.

He had a sharp mind up until his dying day and he said that he wanted his epitaph to read “Curiosity did not kill this cat.”