Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
Cairo, Ill., is often said to be where the North ends and the South begins, a description freighted with meaning beyond geography. Cairo, President-elect Barack Obama wrote in his book, The Audacity of Hope, marks the confluence of the free and the enslaved, the world of Huck and the world of Jim. He has been here and he has seen Cairo, town librarian Monica Smith said of Obama. He knows the shape we are in.