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Obama Win Wouldn't End Racism -- but It Could Be Beginning of Its End

"For those of you who still have their guards up, I say, yes, Mr. Black Man, there are whites who don't like you. But in Obama's campaign, you have blacks and whites, Hispanics and Asians fighting side by side, forming relationships and alliances that will continue," Wilkins said. "Win or lose, Obama has already made this a better country, made your children's future better."

To be sure, black people aren't the only Obama supporters with an emotional stake in the outcome of the election. But if he wins, no group is more likely to need pinching to make sure that this is not just a dream. A black president of the United States who had been a community organizer in poor neighborhoods, married into a working-class black family, advocating that government do more to provide jobs, better education and health care while calling for black parents to do more to help their children succeed.

It would be phenomenal.

"It's quite clear that the kind of interpretation of the black condition that blacks have had to make to presidents ever since I can remember -- and I was born in 1932 -- wouldn't be necessary under an Obama administration," Wilkins said.

"This is a man who understands those problems, although we have to understand that he doesn't have a magic wand. All he can really do is help to steer this country to a better place."

E-mail:milloyc@washpost.com


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