The first presidential election of which I have any recollection was the 1960 Kennedy election. I was six going on seven years old. In those days I was living in Amarillo, Texas and my dad and I used to go watch minor league baseball. In Kennedy’s first year in office, the 1961 Amarillo Gold Sox were affiliated with the New York Yankees and played in Potter County Stadium. That 1961 team featured future Yankees pitcher and tell-all author Jim Bouton and future Yankees first baseman Joe Pepitone.
My dad and I spent countless hours in that little ballpark and I can still see it vividly. The groundskeeper lived in a mobile home down the left field line from which he and his German Shepherd dog watched the games. The entire grandstand was covered by a wire screen and there was a guy with a snare drum that did a drum roll as foul balls rolled down the screen and back on to the field. Graham Plow Company had a big billboard above the left center field wall that was a ground rules home run.
And a pair of rest rooms on the upper level had embossed brass signs outside them that said, “Colored.”
No one who voted in the 1960 election thought they’d ever see a black president. Yet here we are.
The country that at one time refused to serve black customers at lunch counters, the country that refused to allow black women to try on clothes in department stores, the country that stood in the way of black children on their way to white schools, has just enthusiastically and decisively elected a black man to be its president
Hooray for us!
People of every race and color are celebrating Obama’s election for good reason. But none more so than black people. When you consider that there are millions of black people still alive that had to use those separate restrooms or find somewhere else to sit down and eat, Obama’s election to the presidency can be nothing less than electrifying.
But it’s not enough to simply celebrate Obama’s victory. It’s important to understand why it was possible.
Many in the pundit class say we don’t yet really know who Barack Obama is.
But here’s what we do know. Barack Obama has two children. They are both the children of Michelle Obama, Barack’s first and only wife of 16 years. By all reports, Barack Obama is a man actively involved in the raising of his children.
We know that Obama embraced education. After graduating high school he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles and Columbia University in New York where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. Later, he earned a law degree from Harvard.
It has struck me since the beginning of the Bush Administration that if you read a Bush speech it is frequently eloquent and moving. But if you hear a Bush speech, you too frequently find yourself cringing.
Not so with Barack Obama and that is, in my opinion, the clincher for him. After eight years of listening to George W. Bush, an Obama speech sounds like a symphony.
It was Obama’s great voice coupled with his mastery of the king’s English that propelled him to victory.
All of which should be a wakeup call to black people. If Barack Obama had fathered a string of illegitimate children, he would not have been elected president. If Barack Obama had dropped out of high school, he would never have held any office. If he lacked a command of grammatically correct American English, and the education necessary to form thoughts and put them forward in a cogent way, he would never have gotten on a primary ballot. If he had become addicted to drugs, instead of being the 44th president he would be almost certainly be dead or incarcerated.
Nearly 70 percent of black births are illegitimate. Depending on the community, as many as half of black students don’t finish high school. Too many black children never see their fathers. Drug trafficking in black neighborhoods is epidemic.
Obama’s election proved that skin color is no longer decisive. Education and personal responsibility are the touchstones. If black America takes this lesson to heart, Obama’s presidency could be among the most important in our history.
For all you want to say for or against his politics, what you have to say about Barack Obama is that he succeeded the old fashioned way.
He earned it.
I’m sorry, but not everybody is mesmerized by Obama’s speech giving talent. He is very good at delivering a speech, but I do not like how he speaks to the American people as if we are HIS people. It’s demeaning and manipulative.
It’s great that he had a hand in raising his children, great that he is still married, great that he is well educated, great that he worked hard to where he has gotten. But let’s not forget that he had a mastermind for a campaign manager, plenty of geniuses coaching him along the way, millions and millions of dollars to buy votes and basically said and did anything he could to finagle his way to the top.
I, for one, am not impressed at all. If he had done it honestly………then I’d have been impressed.
Just my opinion.
J.O. – he did it honestly, at least as honest of Bush. All presidential coandidates have teams and coaches to guide them along. Ever hear of Karl Rove? I voted third party, am not impressed by Obama, and doubt he will be effective – but he won fair and square.
Everybody is not celebrating contrary to what this writer suggests. The fact that a Marxist wanna-be dictator has been elected to our highest office is frightening indeed.
This is the man who said he wanted to create a civilian security force equal in strength to our military! For what purpose? Can you say suppression?
And what exactly would be the difference in operating methods between the black panthers of today and the Nazis of yesterday if they are given governmental authority?
It was obvious to any serious observer that blacks’ votes were based entirely on race; especially when blacks that had been long-time Republicans voted against their party for this man.
It is also interesting to observe that all the national media gave the 96+% black vote a pass and didn’t call attention to the racism inherent in that percentage. Most media even commended instead of criticizing and yet suggested a white person not voting for him was being racist.
How duplicitous of all our media!
No, I’m not celebrating and I am fearful for the Republic. If we are fortunate enough to have free elections four years from now, I hope that all those white people who voted for him have come to see the blatant racism in the black community and vote for the betterment of the country.
I agree with Mr. Gleiser. I’m a black american, but I did not vote for Mr Obama, because I consider myself a bible believing Christian first and have been a supporter of the Republican Party because I consider their view closer to mines. I have not sensed any pride or celebrated, because a black has been elected. As strong and intellegent black woman Ms Rice is, she was never given a fair handshake from the black community, because she was republican. I feel that the county has made a big mistake to elect Mr Obama a man they do not know and was able to hide behind the enconomy and play the race card to keep the spot light off his shady past. Yes the way blacks vote was indeed racist, because many only voted for him because he is black.
With all due respect, Mr. Gleiser, if you think that race did not play a role in the election of Barak Obama, you have not been paying attention for the last 2 years.
Obama’s entire campaign was predicated on race: that it was Black America’s “turn” to have a candidate elected President – regardless of his qualifications.
Throughout the campaign, Obama studiously avoided anything more than vague, superficial references to issues – and the media gave him a complete pass.
And anyone who questioned his views, comments or platform was immediately vilified as a racist.
In short, he was elected primarily because he IS black, and most of his supporters openly admitted it. They didn’t CARE about issues, or his qualifications – only that he was the “right” color.
You’re right: he appears to be a solid, settled, educated husband and father. But that is NOT what won the Presidency.