Obama's two figures—the young white southern woman, born well after the 60s and who, in her impoverished background, should have become a Republican resenting blacks in the South, and the old black man who could not vote until after 1965 in South Carolina—reverse Du Bois's earlier harrowing image of the old white man and old black woman. Obama shows us an alternative to the "children's children" of Du Bois's story. A new start? This election will test more than the changing metaphors of our racial condition. But "first things" are the stuff of real hope, and they can be grasped only through the long history that gives them meaning.This election will severely test how much Americans grasp the past they are being asked to overcome. If we are ever to build a society where no one must play the role of political "stepchild," it will demand the informed courage of millions of Ashley Baias and her cousins of many hues. History is never over.David W. Blight teaches American history at YaleUniversity and is the author of A Slave No More.