CNN senior political analyst and Harvard professor David Gergen has been an adviser to four presidents—Republicans Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, and Democrat Bill Clinton.
Watching President-elect Obama's speech, David says he was reminded of Dr. King's last speech in Memphis before his assassination. In that speech, Dr. King spoke of the Promised Land but said he might not reach it with his followers. "And Barack Obama, this young man, comes along and calls Martin Luther King the Moses of our time. And now this is the Joshua generation that he's heading up," David says. "Just as it was with King and John Lewis and others who marched, and they were so young and changed the nation, now along comes a new generation, a fresh generation that offers new hope."
As evidence of generational change, David points to election results among young voters. "Four years ago the Democrats won the young vote—that is, between 18 and 29—they won it by about 9 percent," he says. "Yesterday the Democrats, Barack Obama, won the youth vote by 32 percent."
David says President-elect Obama's victory is truly a step forward for our entire nation. Growing up in the '60s in North Carolina, David says he witnessed firsthand the positive effects the civil rights era had on culture. "What I learned then is something that Lincoln said way back earlier: That when one group advances in this country, we all advance," he says. "I can't tell you how much of a debt we in the South owe to John Lewis and Martin Luther King and others who opened our eyes and really lifted whites as much as blacks. ... When the walls came down between the races in the South, the walls came down between the South and the rest of the country. Today the South is much better off than it was some years ago."