Last night, the girlfriend and I watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the 1967 flick about two progressive parents trying to accept their daughter's interracial marriage. The film's a bit dated, though the central struggle of liberals trying to live by their ideals while their guts scream otherwise is still pretty compelling. But midway through, there was a bit of dialogue that struck me. Spencer Tracy, the father, and Sidney Poitier, the husband-to-be, are talking about the chances for Poitier's potential children (and Tracy's grandchildren). The father believes that they'll have none. His daughter, according to Poitier, believes they'll all be president. But his daughter is a naive, flighty girl and even Poitier admits that he doesn't share her optimism. Instead, he jokes, he'll settle for Secretary of State.
Poitier's bride was supposedly utopian for believing mixed-race kids could ascend to the presidency, and Poitier himself was kidding when he said they could become Secretary of State. The whole thing was about how slow progress was likely to be. And yet the movie was made in 1967. Accept its timeline and assume the couple had a child the next year. That kid would be 38 right now. The last Secretary of State was a black man, the current one is a black woman. The brightest star in Democratic politics, and the most oft-mentioned for a future presidency, is a half-black, half-white Senator named Barack Obama.
Seems to me we've done pretty good.