Earl Smith Washington PostWhen Barack Obama was still a Senator running for president, a black elevator operator, Earl Smith, shared a moment with him at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Austin. His time with the future President was short, but Smith gave Obama something that he would carry with him for the rest of the campaign.

He said, “I’ve carried this military patch with me every day for 40 years, and I want you to carry it, and it will keep you safe in your journey.” Obama tried to refuse, but the older man persisted.

The story of the elderly worker tells a lot about where this country has been and how far it has come.

(READ the extended profile in the Washington Post)

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