Road to the top

Published 12:34 pm Monday, November 10, 2008

No doubt about it, the election of Barack Obama as the next president of the United States is historic.

This newspaper has received numerous calls in the last few days asking why we didn’t have Obama’s picture on Wednesday’s front page, but our obligations to our readers is to cover local news.

Our mission of devoting our resources on election night to local races doesn’t discount Obama’s achievement. His election as the first black man to be the president of the United States is a milestone, especially considering just 45 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. was asking this country to judge each person by the content of their character and not the color of they skin.

Are we truly there yet?

Obama’s election was not achieved with gerrymandering. His bloc of voters stretched across this country, with no boundaries or specially drawn districts.

He appealed to a cross section of voters, and maybe we are coming to a point in our history where men—and women—are truly treated equally.

But Obama’s path to the highest office in the United States started in the small towns all across this country many years ago.

Here in Bainbridge, Luther Conyers blazed a trail by being elected as the first black city councilman in 1978. Back then, he was one of the eight top vote-getters of a 12-man election, the same year B.K. Reynolds was first elected mayor.

Conyers has been re-elected since then, many times without opposition. He has been recognized as being a good locally elected official, who has served the citizens of Bainbridge exceptionally well.

Conyers—and the countless other elected officials who run our towns, counties, states and even members of Congress such as U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop—are the trailblazers who helped forged a path for Obama.

The Luther Conyers in this country are not the black councilmen or the black legislators. They are the public servants—who are black—that have taken to heart their duties and ideals.

Obama’s election couldn’t have happened Tuesday night without the years of service citizens like Luther Conyers have devoted to local governments across this country.

President-elect Barack Obama’s road to the White House is certainly historic, but don’t forget that his path was forge long ago.

Now maybe that mountain top that King has dreamed about has finally been conquered.