Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 01/20/2009 - 07:48.

I’ll have to think of Carl Stokes on a day as this.

The election of Carl Stokes in November, 1967, came as a release in Cleveland much as, I think, Barak Obama’s election, culminating today in his inauguration, does for the nation.

Cleveland had been wracked by racial problems and animosity that kept relations between blacks and whites raw in this town. The 1960s were hell in Cleveland. We see the results of that more vividly today.

But the election of Stokes was a release. It gave one the ability to feel that a community had breached the barrier of race to elect a black man mayor of Cleveland Ohio. We had overcome. We thought so in our celebration.

It’s also a warning to me that as significant a change that it seemed that election night - not everything changed, especially for those on the lowest rung of our economic ladder. Many people benefited – blacks got jobs they never would have. However, much hasn’t changed. And some has gotten worse.

Obama, as we all know, faces insurmountable problems. He will not be able to make all the changes that many of us would like to see. Stokes didn’t either. He lifted hope high. Yet, he left Cleveland disgusted after two terms, four years.

Despite my sympathetic feeling and desire to want to believe Obama means a big change, I can’t deny there is a feeling that he cannot meet the emotion that his promise brings to us.

We – as a people – have failed too often in my lifetime for me to have great hope. From war to war, from problem to problem ignored, this nation, since I was a teenager, has damaged itself and the world while pretending to be better than others. Two words put the lie to that – Vietnam and Iraq.

We have to stop thinking of ourselves as special. It’s too heavy a burden.

We sing of our greatness but we won’t pay the price it demands.

I hope I am wrong. I think not, however.