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Published:May 20th, 2008 14:21 EST
Sen. Barack Obama Gets Robert Byrd's Endorsement

Sen. Barack Obama Gets Robert Byrd's Endorsement

By Robert Paul Reyes

Headline: West Virginia Senator, Robert Byrd, endorses Barack Obama.

Not a day goes by without two or more superdelegates endorsing Obama. Sen. Byrd's endorsement tends to get lost in the inexorable tide of superdelegates supporting the senator from Illinois.

But we should take a few moments to ponder the significance of Byrd's endorsement.

The 90-year-old senator is the longest-serving senator in history; it would be natural to assume that he would opt for experience and endorse Hillary Clinton. Instead Byrd gave his blessing to the eloquent and inspiring New Kid on the Block.

Byrd joined the KKK as a young man, but he later repudiated the Klan and everything it stands for. Byrd's career in the senate proves that he overcame his racist past to become a champion for human rights. Nevertheless, it's still remarkable that there wasn't a vestige of racism in the old warrior that would prevent him from endorsing an African American for president of the United States.

Byrd is a senator from West Virginia, a state where Obama lost to Hillary by a whopping 41 percentage points. It would have been politically expedient for Byrd to endorse Hillary, and thereby showing solidarity with his constituents. But Byrd realized that Obama is one of those statesmen who comes along once in a generation, and evidently he felt that it was worth the risk to support him.

At 90 years old we know that Byrd is not angling to be Obama's running mate. Byrd's endorsement came from his heart, and I hope it will sway West Virginians, of all races, to vote for Obama in the general election.