Our Historic Flight on Air Force One with President Obama

The impact of the flight hit me when my feet finally touched the ground, literally and figuratively. We traveled with President Obama to New York, where he addressed the NAACP on its 100th anniversary. A century ago, that day’s occupants of Air Force One would have had to travel across the country in segregated rail cars. A century ago, we were second-class citizens, denied the right to fully participate in American society. In his stirring speech, he told us why the oldest civil rights organization had been founded and why our forefathers fought so hard and sacrificed so much: “Because of what they did, we are a more perfect union. Because Jim Crow laws were overturned, black CEOs today run Fortune 500 companies. Because civil rights laws were passed, black mayors, black governors, and members of Congress served in places where they might once have been able not just to vote but even take a sip of water. And because ordinary people did such extraordinary things … because of their efforts I made a little trip to Springfield, Illinois, a couple years ago—where Lincoln once lived, and race riots once raged—and began the journey that has led me to be here tonight as the 44th president of the United States of America.” And seven African American journalists, me included, took a journey too: a historic flight on Air Force One with the first African American president of the United States.

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