Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama: the new President

There will be times when we need to oppose this administration and its policies. I have already opposed them on education and economic appointments.
At the same time we should recognize that with the inauguration , a positive change has been created in the racial paradigm of this country. Race and racism have long been among the obstacles to building a progressive movement.
It is also clear that a dedicated group of activists can change the direction of this country.
Can you imagine where we would be on the economy if John Mc Cain had won?
Duane Campbell
From the SF Chronicle
(01-20) 09:06 PST SAN FRANCISCO - -- When President Barack Obama was a toddler in the early 1960s, African Americans were being charged a poll tax, interracial marriage was illegal in some states, NAACP lawyers were being murdered and police fought integration with fire hoses and dogs.

But the accomplishments of the civil rights movement that began in the 1950s - equal access to schools, voting rights for African Americans and increasing the number of black politicians in office - helped propel Obama into the White House.

"We have had peaks and valleys in the civil rights struggle and this is the mountain top," the Rev. Jesse Jackson, an activist and minister who has been fighting for civil rights for more than 40 years, said in an interview. "It says a lot about how far the movement has brought this nation."

Jackson, who was seen with tears streaming down his face the night Obama won the presidency, said the moment prompted tremendous emotions.

"I thought about the journey - the martyrs, the marches, and the bludgeoned," Jackson said. "I thought about Medgar Evers, Cesar Chavez and about Dr. King, and I wished they could have been there."

Since Obama won the election Nov. 4, there has been a renewed focus on the civil rights movement and King, who would have turned 80 this year. African Americans have compared the presidency to landing on the moon.

Obama was 7 when King was assassinated. His generation grew up in an era when King's dreams seemed possible to achieve. But African Americans felt like they were being dishonest when they told their children they could be anything they wanted.

"When I was growing up in Mississippi and said I wanted to be president, everyone snickered," said Princeton professor Eddie Glaude Jr., who teaches religion and African American studies. "Now, if Obama serves two terms, my black male child will come of age politically with a black president.

"A man of color as the head of state unleashes the imagination in so many ways for so many people and it frees up children to see themselves in more expansive terms."

A black president is far beyond the initial goals of the civil rights movement, started in the 1950s to reverse Jim Crow laws that promoted "separate but equal" segregation.

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