Walter Dellinger argues that the most important part of Friday's Presidential debate at Ole Miss what was not said by either candidate:
Somewhere in my attic there is a fading copy of a campus newspaper from 1967—my first year as a law professor at the University of Mississippi. The headline, as I recall, says "Negro to Address Ole Miss Class." In the space of my own adulthood, a world in which a guest lecture by a black man was a front-page news story has morphed into a world in which a person of color will be speaking on the Rebel campus tonight as a candidate for president of the United States.
. . .
I can't know for sure whether Aaron Henry was the first person of color to lecture at the university, but the campus paper certainly thought so and made of it a very notable event. One of my students—whose relatives were reputed to be Klansmen—asked whether he could sit in a chair in the hall and listen to Henry lecture through the open door. His religion, he explained, precluded him from being present at an event at which a black person was in a role of authority. I told him it would be up to Mr. Henry, who agreed to this "separation" with a ready smile.
It seemed at the time a historic event, which is probably why I still have that old newspaper. Now, on the day of the appearance on the campus of candidate Barack Obama, I am amazed at how close and how far away that Oxford of the 1960s really seems. . . .
Sen. Barack Obama comes to Oxford tonight in a far more exalted role than Aaron Henry did in his appearance as a guest lecturer 40 years ago. But while the fact of his race is no longer front-page news, I am nevertheless struck by the thread that connects both appearances. Tonight's visit to the home of the Ole Miss Rebels by a person of color seeking the presidency of the United States is just one more step on a journey of redemption for Americans, both white and black. The fact that his race is not front-page news tells me we are on the right track.
Read it all here.