One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

What’s in a name?

My eighth grade “Social Studies” classroom was lined with pictures (actually more like caricatures, I think) of the 42 American presidents, ordered chronologically.  I remember looking around the room, with a knot of disappointment as I read each of their names.  Yes, it was their whiteness, oldness, and maleness (that trio for the history books), but above all, it was their names.  A litany of Williams, Johns, and Jameses.  Of Adamses, Harrisons, and Wilsons.  Even the Grovers and the Lyndons, the Van Burens and the Eisenhowers, failed to convince me that this country was ruled by anyone but the few.

Electing Barack Obama means so much.  The superficial and the substantive have a neat way of coming together this election, and one of those melded significances is his name.  Putting a poster of a Barack Hussein Obama next to a William Jefferson Clinton and a George Walker Bush will influence this generation of eighth graders in ways more subtle and stunning than concrete policies ever will be able.


November 4, 2008 - Posted by | History, U.S. politics |

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