Sunday, February 11, 2018

#PHNBlackHistoryMonth: Barack Obama



Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama’s stride into history has been as confident as it has been unlikely.

He announced his candidacy for president on Feb. 10, 2007, a black first-term U.S. senator who previously had served just seven years in the Illinois Senate. He had little support from established politicians, and many black voters did not even know who he was. But his campaign became a movement. His soaring speeches promising hope and change inspired millions. Less than two years later, a record crowd gathered on the National Mall to witness what was once unthinkable: the inauguration of the first black president of the United States.

It was a singular achievement by a man with a singular history. He was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and white mother. As a child, he lived in Indonesia before returning to Hawaii to be raised by his white grandparents.


As a teenager, he began to discover his black identity largely through basketball. He admired and emulated the loose-limbed swagger of the guys who played the game. He saw black as cool, and embraced the virtues of blackness while managing to sidestep much of its complicated baggage.

All along, he behaved like a man unconstrained by stereotype. He married a black woman from Chicago’s South Side, gushing in one of his books not only about her beauty and intelligence but also the warmth and strength of her family. Asked to name television shows he liked, he mentioned the gritty urban drama The Wire, adding that his favorite character was Omar, a gay stickup man.

Through two terms as president, he tamed the Great Recession, rescued the struggling auto industry and enacted a health care reform law that had eluded Democrats for decades. He was disciplined and deliberative, even-tempered and level-headed. He was often described as the smartest person in the room, which everyone knew he knew.



Overall, Obama governed as a moderate. Republicans were annoyed when he punctuated his positions by saying “elections have consequences.” Black progressives grumbled when he answered their pleas for programs targeting black problems by saying, “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America.”

Obama remained confident even after voters chose as his successor, Donald Trump, a man who in both style and substance is his polar opposite.

Speaking to the nation in his farewell address, Obama reprised the slogan that accompanied his history-making rise to the White House:

“Yes we can,” he said. “Yes we did. Yes we can.” – Michael A. Fletcher


Source: The Undefeated
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