“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, but as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed,” said 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.
So, for many African Americans it is truly hard to be objective; we will admit it. It’s hard to just look at the President from a pure academic and policy perspective. It’s hard to put aside the pride and adoration we feel for the first black president.
We know that African Americans as a whole will not be the only voice to proclaim Obama’s strong legacy. The real academia’s, those 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.
Obama has racked up some serious victories over his two terms, and he hasn’t been afraid to deal with controversial issues like U.S. relations with Cuba. He recently said, Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward; I believe it’s time for Congress to do the same.”
He pointed out that the policy of isolating Cuba isn’t working and it’s time to move on. “But it’s long past time for us to realize that this approach doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for 50 years,” he added. Time will tell how this issue affects our country, but it was a bold step to make.
From his administration’s aggressive support of incentives to lift up the auto industry, to the affordable care act, which is now providing needed healthcare benefits to millions of Americans – the President has hit some home runs.
Think back some six 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 investment or 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 finally turning a profit again and adding much needed jobs in cities like Detroit. And if any community needs jobs, Detroit is at the top of the list.
The Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage was a major win for Obama and Democrats. 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’s his Amazing Grace moment. I think that we all would 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 African Americans in an AME church. It was a presidential moment that we 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.
Speaking of Wall Street or the economy – we have seen steady growth over the past four 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.
And to take another look back a few years ago, clearly killing or capturing Osama bin Laden was a priority and would have been for any American President. In 2011, Obama ordered a military raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, 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 aid programs.
In July of 2010, students began getting their federal student loans directly from the federal government. The U.S. Treasury will save $67 billion over ten years, $36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students. Bravo Mr. President!
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, especially smart women, Obama nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayorto the Supreme Court, the first Hispanic and third woman to serve in 2009; and Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve, in 2010.
And not to mention, under Obama, Loretta Lynch become the first African American U.S. Attorney General.
Anyone 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.
So the President’s list of accomplishments is quite impressive. And as Frederick Douglas once said, “You are not judged by the height you have risen, but from the depth you have climbed.”
Signing off from Washington, D.C.,
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