A step for racial equality in education will be taken when a 21-year-old black woman becomes the first valedictorian at the University of Notre Dame this spring.
University officials say they don't keep such records of achievement by race but don't recall ever having a black valedictorian at the school. Therefore, Katie Washington, a Gary, Ind., native and biology major, will get that distinction next month.
Washington has been accepted to five schools but plans to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D at Johns Hopkins University.
It is great that Washington has been able to to go through school with her 4.0 GPA and follow in the footsteps of her father, who is a doctor, and mother and sisters, who are nurses.
The cynical part of my brain, though, can't wait for the day when we don't have to proclaim every "first" as a racial milestone. It would be nice if, as a society, we weren't surprised that a young black woman of high intellect and drive could represent the best her university has to offer academically.
But then the realistic part of my brain kicks in and says that we still have to note every "first' as long as people are judged by their skin color and ethnicity in this country.
We as a society are constantly beat down by images of black inferiority, and, no, we don't always achieve like we should but no people, no matter the skin color, are perfect.
We spend so much time examining, reviewing, talking and passing on stories about folks who act the fool. Unfortunately, that's human nature, like watching a car crash.
On the other hand, we spend too little time talking about black people who do good and great things like Washington.
So until the scales are a little more balanced, let's celebrate Katie Washington and all those like her who counter the popular image of black people as constantly underachieving.
Watch the lovely young lady in action here: