DENVER — I don't know everything it said about a country, or about Barack Obama, when some 80,000 people filled every nook, corner and cranny of Invesco Field at Mile High last night to hear Obama accept the 2008 presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.

But I know it says this: America is going seriously colorblind.

For the first time in the history of the republic, an African-American was nominated by a major political party to run as its candidate for president of the United States.

Two hundred and thirty-two summers ago, when the Declaration of Independence was signed without a single black person in the room, unless as a waiter or a servant, such a thing happening was unthinkable.

One hundred and forty-seven summers ago, when Southern states started a civil war over the right to keep blacks in slavery, it was, if anything, even more beyond believable.

And 45 summers ago, to the day, when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963, that's all it still was — a dream.

But on a picture-perfect, low-humidity, virtually cloudless night in Colorado, Barack Obama, son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas who was 2 years old when Dr. King gave that speech, became a candidate for president as an audience with far more white people than any other color rose collectively to its feet in enthusiastic approval.

You think Michael Phelps brought a tear to your eye.

America has rarely looked more beautiful.

That old promise about "in America, anyone can become president" now has teeth in it.

What happened last night said much more about us than it did about Barack Obama.

"I'm sure my mother and father are looking down and smiling," said Martin Luther King III.

Along with Jackie Robinson, and Dred Scott, and Frederick Douglas, and Rosa Parks, and Medgar Evers, and James Meredith, and Jesse Owens, and millions of other black Americans — and white ones, too — who fought uphill for so long to right a wrong that began over 400 years ago when the first slave ship from Africa was allowed to dock in the Caribbean.

I'll bet even Malcolm X is allowing himself a small grin.

The nomination of Obama doesn't mean racial bias, prejudice and bigotry have ended completely in America. Far from it. People who keep track of such things know there is still racial disparity when it comes to education, wages, good jobs, etc. Some parts of the South still cling to that Confederate flag.

But it does suggest it's fading rapidly in the right direction.

No longer is black and white so black and white.

For a week I've watched the phenomenon unfold here in Denver — it's been a colorless convention. I've seen "Rednecks for Obama" stand next to "Veterans for Obama" and "Latinos for Obama."

Candidate Obama is surrounded by supporters who don't look alike.

I don't know if he will win the presidency. There's still a lot to learn about him and still two months to learn it. But the color of his skin is yesterday's news, or at least it is as far as the half of America that the polls say are ready to vote for him are concerned.

And if he succeeds or fails, it will be because of the usual divide and debate between liberals and conservatives, small government versus big government, big labor versus big business.

It was his night Thursday — and America's night, to the point that the man he's running against for president paid for an ad on national television that showed John McCain saying, simply, "Congratulations."

To all of us.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.