barbarahowardweb.gifAs we proceed through this week of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Aug. 25 – 28, 2008, we see several important and historical happenings both now and from days gone by.

Tuesday, Aug. 26, is Women’s Equality Day, the commemoration of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 1920, after 72 years of fighting, women were finally given the right to vote, 51 years after freed black slaves were given that same right by the 15th Amendment.

It is the same day that Hillary Clinton, who was almost the Democratic presidential nominee, gave her speech at the convention.  So 88 years after women were given the right to vote, a woman came close to being elected president.

We say, “Close but no cigar.”  Ironically, Hillary got over 18 million popular votes during the Democratic Primary, but lost the nomination to Barack Obama, who got fewer popular votes than Hillary, but more delegates (pledged and superdelegates) than she did.

What is more ironic is that in the 2000 presidential elections, Democrats felt that George Bush “stole” the election from Al Gore because Gore received more popular votes than Bush, but Bush received more delegates.

In fact there was so much controversy that there was a movement to change the historical method of electing the president, even though this was not the first time this had happened, but the fourth (including 1824, 1876, and 1888).

Now the discussion of making the winner the one getting the most popular votes and not the most delegates has finally been made moot, given the selection of Obama as the Democratic nominee.

The Democratic Party is now discussing how their presidential nominee will be selected in the future.  After Florida and Michigan got their delegates taken away (and then restored) for going against the DNC rules by pushing their primaries up, there has been a call to reform the entire process.

Thursday, Aug. 28, was also full of history. On that same date in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech before a throng of more than 200,000 civil rights supporters in front of the Washington Monument.

Obama’s deliverance of his historic acceptance speech in front of 75,000 was the epitome of Dr. King’s dream.

King said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Dr. King’s dream has been realized in so many instances over the past few decades.  Just look at the long list of African-American firsts. 
Lawrence Douglas Wilder was elected as governor of Virginia in 1990.  Ron Brown was appointed U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 1993. Republican J.C. Watts was elected to serve in Congress from Oklahoma in 1994.

Alexis M. Herman was appointed U.S. secretary of labor in 1997.  Michael S. Steele was elected to serve as lieutenant governor of Maryland in 2002.  Colin Luther Powell was appointed U.S. Secretary of State in 2001 after serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

Condoleezza Rice was appointed U.S. national security advisor in 2001 and later as U.S. secretary of state in 2005.  And now Barack Hussein Obama has been elected as the Democratic nominee for U.S. president.

U.S. Representative Bella Abzug, who established Women’s Equality Day in 1971 and the women who started the Woman Suffrage Movement in 1848, some of whom also fought for black suffrage, would be proud of Hillary Clinton’s accomplishment this week. Dr. King would also be proud of Obama’s accomplishment this week.

So this final week in August is a week of pride for a lot of people, including me. I celebrate my 66th birthday on Aug 27. My granddaughter, Ayesha, turns 20 on Aug. 28 and my nominee for president, John McCain, celebrates his 72nd birthday on Aug. 29.

If there ever was a reason to celebrate, this week is it.

Barbara Howard is president of Barbara Howard & Associates and the Florida state chair for C.O.R.E. (the Congress of Racial Equality).

Photo: Barbara Howard