A sad irony accompanied President Obama on his recent visit to Columbus.. Mr. Obama, possibly the most charismatic President since President Kennedy, visited Columbus on the same day that Reverend Al Sharpton, reprising the role that Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King played as JFK’s nemesis, visited Sanford, Florida. Without Dr. King’s efforts, Mr. Obama probably would not have been elected President, and the shooting of Trayvon Martin would surely have been forgotten by now. Therein lies the sad irony.

The lessons of history can be learned only through difficult and usually painful self-reflection, and can be forgotten only at great peril. I call on Columbusoids of all stripes, colors, flavors, and beliefs to help President Obama help all Americans to do the difficult work, to rise above this irony to a healing that we all so desperately need. After all, who knows who the next Trayvon might be? We are all Trayvon now. And history will judge us accordingly.

Robert A. Letcher (PhD, Cornell, 1994)