What African Americans thought of Barack Obama


THE BLACK PRESIDENT

Hope and fury in the era of Obama
By Claude A. Clegg III

The election of the 44th President of the United States was not only a national historic event but, for black Americans, a moment of transformation. It marked the transition to a whole new conception of themselves as citizens of America, one that shattered centuries of entrenched pessimism about what was ultimately possible in the country to which they were forced to so much. give, and of which they had learned to receive so little. The president himself predicted this as his greatest achievement. When his wife asked him cautiously, when announcing that he would run for president, “Why? you need to be president? he gave as his main reason that the day he became president “children all over the country – black children, Hispanic children, children who do not fit into the world – they too will see themselves differently, their horizons will change. ‘widen, their possibilities extend. And that alone… it would be worth it. His answer was prophetic.

Claude A. Clegg III’s “The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama” explores at length the “impact and significance for African Americans” of Obama’s presidency. And while he discovers that the response of black Americans was “complex, layered, and fractured,” as one would expect from a population of nearly 47 million people, the main finding of his comprehensive interpretative study is steadfast commitment of black voters to the president. , despite the disappointments expressed by many black leaders about the extent to which his policies have changed the real condition of African Americans.

Beyond the fact that the presence of a black couple in the White House transcended everything for black Americans, four factors stood out to complicate Obama’s relationship with many influential black leaders: his political pragmatism; his moderation on race and his reluctance to engage publicly with it; his unwavering commitment to the idea that a universalist and non-racial political approach, rather than one targeting blacks for special attention, worked best for the nation and for blacks themselves (best exemplified in his program of historical health); and his view that while every effort should be made by the government to right the lingering wrongs of racism, black Americans had a personal responsibility to change those self-immoralizing behaviors that hindered their progress, such as the high rate of racism. absence of the father. These positions have been a source of grinding irritation to many black leaders, at least one of whom, Jesse Jackson (himself an absent father), has been heard wishing for Obama’s emasculation.

The first part of the book examines Obama’s background and early developments, as well as his political career from the Illinois legislature to his successful presidential campaign. It is the most difficult period of Obama’s extraordinary career for any biographer. Like a figure in mythology, Obama burst onto America from a strange and wonderful background of very different souls and places – Hawaii, Indonesia, Seattle, Kansas – the son of two “wanderers and dreamers ”, an adventurous white mother from the heart of the United States, an itinerant black father from East Africa, who quickly passed away. How out of these unlikely mixtures emerged the luminous figure channeling his “fierce ambition” and supernatural social and rhetorical skills into the young candidate who captivated a racially-tense nation is a mystery many have already tried to unravel. Clegg, Professor Lyle V. Jones of History and African American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, effectively evaluates and summarizes the available accounts with some new material of his own.


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