I heard the news this morning on the way to work.
And I remembered.
Years ago, I came to work, on a day very much like this one. Lincoln Alexander had just been appointed to the position of Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. It was, I knew a big deal. He was the first black person to hold that position and we all knew that a significant line had been crossed in the life of our province. I arrived early, made coffee for the others, then went to retrieve messages and generally get ready for the day.
Ten or fifteen minutes later, I went into the coffee room and found the temp secretary, a lovely woman, crying softly at the coffee table with the newpaper resting on her lap. I came to her quickly and asked if she was OK. I didn't know her well, she'd only been there a week or so, but it didn't matter, she seemed so distressed. She shook her head when I asked her if anything was wrong, if I could do anything. Then she picked up the paper and showed me the reason for her tears. There on the front page was a huge photograph of Lincoln Alexander.
"I never thought, growing up I mean, I never thought I'd see this day."
Tears sprang to my eyes. I understood, almost instinctively, what she meant. Yes, it was a big day for Canada and for Ontario. But it was a huge day for her, a black woman. That face in the newpaper that day signalled to every racist son-of-a-bitch to step back, but it also signalled to every black kid to step forward. It was a big day for a community. A community that wasn't mine. But a community that had it's own reason's for celebration.
And now today.
David Onley became the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. A man who gets around on a scooter. A disabled man who has the courage to identify with the disability community. A man who has spoken before and will speak again about disability rights. The broadcast this morning mentioned Onley's disability but seemed to have no understanding of his community, of the 'bigness' of the day for a whole wack of people with disabilities. For me.
"Are you OK?" Joe asked as he'd noticed that I'd fallen silent and was looking away from the road and off into the distance beside me.
"Very," I said.