Inauguration Day

On Martin Luther King's birthday, an African-American man was sworn in as President of the United States, his hand upon bibles that belonged to Dr. King and President Abraham Lincoln, signer of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The oath of office was administered to his Vice President by a Latina Supreme Court Justice, one of three women currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.

An original poem was recited by the youngest Inaugural Poet in U.S. history, a gay man who is the child of Cuban refugees.

In the VIP section were two women who had served, respectively, as U.S. Speaker of the House and U.S. Secretary of State.

Nearby stood the newly-elected Asian-American Congresswoman from Illinois, a decorated war veteran who lost both her legs in Iraq.

My, how times have changed.

We are definitely closer to the day of which Dr. King dreamed, the day when people "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We are moving towards the day feminists have long envisioned, when both women and men view one another as human beings first and sex objects last. And we are nearing the day when everyone views a person with disabilities as more than her disability, and a person who is LGBTQ as more than his sexuality.

My daughter, who is a junior in college, thinks this is all as it should be-and it is. It's just that when I was her age, I could not have imagined any of these scenarios, much less President Obama's second inauguration, in my wildest dreams.

When I was 20, there was only one woman in the U.S. Senate. Today there are 20.

When I was 20, an African-American Member of Congress was a pioneer. Today, there are members of Congress who are African-American, Asian-American, Native American and Hispanic.

When I was 20, every single member of the Supreme Court was male, eight out of nine were white, and eight out of nine were Protestant. Today, not one member of the Supreme Court is a white Protestant man.

When I was 20, people with disabilities were still called "handicapped," overlooked and denied access to jobs, school activities, housing and many mainstream events because they literally could not get through the doors. Today, the law of the land demands the accessibility of public facilities, housing, education and employment.

When I was 20, fewer than 1 in 10 Americans supported gays' right to marry. Today, more than half of Americans do.

Of course, we still have a long way to go. I asked a colleague what she had thought of the inauguration, and her first comment was: "Thank God Hilary Clinton has finally done something with her hair."

Reflections from your editor, Cindy Sher, on people living their Jewish lives each day. ... Read More

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