Obama And Content Of Our Character

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[Presidential Inauguration]

Today’s inauguration of President Barack Obama represents the end of one journey that united Americans across lines of race, class, gender and geography in a campaign of historic dimensions, and the beginning of a new journey to change the direction of our nation.

Who could fail to be moved by the symbolism of this great moment taking place in the same week we remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. I grew up with my father’s stories of driving through the night in the southern United States. A roadside motel might have unused rooms, yet to an African American traveler there were no vacancies. 

This week a vacancy in the greatest house in the land will be filled by an African American, a huge step forward in our nation’s ongoing struggle to become a more perfect union. The election of Barack Obama should fill all Americans with pride in our work to live out Dr. King’s dream of creating a society where we are judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.

Do we still have further to go? Certainly. A generation ago we fought against overt racism. Today we fight against the more subtle inequality of economic injustice that disproportionately impacts people of color, reflected in the recent mortgage foreclosure crisis. And yet forty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we must take pride in the sight of Americans of all races voting for change in record numbers.

I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to President Barack Obama on this day of his historic inauguration. Although our nation faces many significant obstacles, I am greatly encouraged by his bold vision to address the challenges that lie ahead.

As the president works to shift our nation’s priorities and create new opportunities for prosperity, New Yorkers and I stand ready to assist him in any way we can.

Thompson is comptroller of The City of New York

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