“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed,” – Booker T. Washington.
Perhaps no other United States president has had to endure the scrutiny, disdain and bigotry as President Obama. My always prayerful grandmother would quote one of her favorite biblical passages, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” My grandmother also embraces the President as a family member, a special favorite nephew – she loves her some Obama family.
I think that my Aunt Verdell is more enamored with the Obama’s than my grandmother. She has more pictures of the Obama family than she does of her own grandkids. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but you get the point.
So for many African Americans it is truly hard to be objective. We will admit it. It’s hard to just look at the 44th President from a pure political science perspective. It’s hard to put aside the pride and adoration we feel for America’s first black president.
We know that African Americans as a whole will not be the only voice to proclaim Obama’s strong legacy. The presidential history scholars will agree that considering the state of this country’s economy and overall morale – Obama not only weathered the storm, but he also righted the ship.
Let’s not even focus on his most prominent achievement of them all – the Affordable Healthcare Act or Obamacare.
And then there is the obvious “elephant in the room” – to get a true appreciation for President Obama’s greatness one needs to simply look to his replacement. The Donald Trump presidency has been an absolute disaster. Trump makes George W. Bush look like a superstar and we all know that wasn’t the case at all.
Obama has racked up some serious victories over his two terms, and he wasn’t afraid to deal with controversial issues like U.S. relations with Cuba. In 2016, he said that Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward; I believe it’s time for Congress to do the same.”
From his administration’s aggressive support of incentives to lift up the auto industry to the Affordable Care Act, which is now providing needed health care benefits to millions of Americans – the President Obama hit some home runs.
Think back some eight years ago when the President announced the move to bail out the Detroit auto industry. Many critics thought that it was the worse move in the history of capitalism – the government’s bail out of Chrysler and GM would be a complete failure.
But if you fast-forward to today, many of the naysayers are silent because clearly the bail out actually worked. The auto industry is turning profits annually again and adding much needed jobs in cities like Detroit.
The Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage was a major win for Obama and Democrats. And while the President would openly admit that it took him some time to fully get on board with gay marriage – he proved that he fully supported the issue over the last couple of years.
Then there was his Amazing Grace moment. I think we all can agree that he’s no Ray Charles, but he touched the hearts of so many Americans with his eulogy in Charleston after the terrible hateful murders of nine congregants in an AME church. It was a presidential moment that many will always remember and one of the most powerful of his presidency.
On Wall Street Reform, the President would clearly get a fairly high grade, and his toughness and management of the gulf oil spill would also get high marks. But it shouldn’t surprise anyone that President Trump and the Republican Congress voided many of the laws put in place to stop Wall Street corruption – surprise, surprise.
Speaking of Wall Street or the economy – we have seen steady growth over the past eight years and a declining unemployment rate. The Great Recession was tough on everyone, and Obama did a good job of leading the country through its most devastating economic crisis in decades.
Let’s go backa few years ago. Acquiring Osama bin Laden was a priority and would have been for any American President. In 2011, Obama ordered a military raid of a compound in Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and critical al-Qaeda documents were discovered.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today,” said Malcolm X. And President Obama recognized that education is a true pathway to success in this country so his administration targeted ways to improve federal financial aide programs.
And while we are looking at his first term, in a big win for women, and really anyone who cares about equality, the President signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009. This bill gives women who are paid less than men for the same work the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if that discrimination happened years ago.
Speaking of women, Obama nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman to serve, in 2009; and Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve, in 2010 in the Supreme Court.
Any one who reads the Free Press on a regular basis knows that I truly believe in mentoring as a way help minority young men stay on the right track. The President started the “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force, which is aimed at saving the lives of young black men. And here’s what is so great about this initiative – even after leaving office Obama is keeping the mentoring program alive.
So the President’s lists of accomplishments have been extremely impressive. And in the era of Donald Trump, we should be missing Barack Obama more and more every day.
Signing off from Washington, D.C., Reggie Fullwood