This Black History Month I’m Grateful for Barack Obama
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or
some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that
Jackson ran for President in 1984 and 1988, his campaigns were considered
quixotic. No one really thought Jackson would be President. However, a
generation later, Obama accomplished what many believed impossible; a Black
President. Nor was this an accident of history. Consolidating his 2008 win with
a sizable re-election margin in 2012 made Obama only the fourth Democrat to win
consecutive terms as President since Andrew Jackson.*
Soon after succeeding George W. Bush in the White House,
Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. While the award was largely a repudiation of
Bush, Obama has ended America’s war in Iraq and the end of the conflict in
Afghanistan is imminent. With ObamaCare, the President has initiated the most
substantial change in health care since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society created
Medicaid and Medicare.
Obama has also broadened the national conversation on
civil rights issues by publicly supporting gay marriage rights and ending
discriminatory policies in the military. Obama is among the several most
important people in this 21st century and already belongs near the
top of the list for all of American history.
Beyond his policies, Obama has become a global symbol for
possibility. The vision of what America is and can be has been irrevocably
changed now that Obama and his family are the visual representatives of this
country. While Obama’s Presidency is not the realization of Martin Luther
King’s Dream, America has certainly come closer to fulfilling it. Clearly, America’s
first Black President holds a special, soon to be permanent place in the annals
of national and world history.
Today I am grateful for Barack Obama. You should be too.
*- Before him were Bill Clinton, Franklin Roosevelt and
Woodrow Wilson. Grover Cleveland won the popular vote three times in a row but
lost the Electoral College race in between his terms in office.
This Black History Month I’m Grateful for Hiram Revels
“The colored race can be built up and assisted … in acquiring
property, in becoming intelligent, valuable, useful citizens, without one hair
upon the head of any white man being harmed.”
– Hiram Revels
Hiram Revels is relatively unknown even to students of Black
American history. His name is usually evoked only when something unusual
happens: a Black person becoming a United States Senator.
In the 150 years
since the Emancipation Proclamation, fewer than ten Blacks have been Senators
and Hiram Revels was the first. Revels served Mississippi for a little more
than a year and had a relatively uneventful experience after controversy
surrounding his seating in the Senate abated.
The political universe of Reconstruction was vastly different
than our own but Revels established an important precedent. His dignified
service to his state and our country demonstrated that White fears of
incompetent Black leadership were absurd.
After his time in the Senate concluded, Revels continued to
have a valuable career, serving as the first president of Alcorn State, as a
professor and as a minister. We can only hope that our current Black Senators
give as generously to the world as Revels did.
Today I am grateful for Hiram Revels. You should be too.
I’m not that interested in reading what President George W. Bush has to say about the topics he’s interested in discussing. Today is the release date for his book but I have a very different list of things I want to know. Namely, what were his immediate reactions to some of the events that happened while he was in office.
These aren’t the most important things, just important things Bush wouldn’t necessarily have known about it in advance. First responses are always telling. Inquiring minds want to know.
Here’s my list:
The first American has died in Afghanistan
Daniel Pearl is killed
Saddam Hussein’s capture
Re-election is confirmed (Remember that in the 2004 Election Bush almost lost in a similar fashion to the 2000 Election he won. That year, Ohio could have disrupted the popular vote/Electoral College relationship.)
Colin Powell’s resignation
Fidel Castro’s resignation
Sarah Palin as John McCain’s VP choice
Barack Obama winning Nobel Peace Prize