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America's First Black President

By nlhaynes Feb 23, 2010 980 Words
America’s First Black President
Years of terror and war brought Americans of all ethnicities to believed that a time for change had come; change came in the form of two minorities who had the ability and desire to revitalize a country that had been burdened with doubt and financial frailty. Times have changed, race is still controversy topic, but due to programs like Affirmative Action and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, minorities are stepping up to take places of power in our country. African Americans are no longer the disadvantaged citizens they once were considered to be, the media, internet and entertainment industries have evolved the thinking of Americans leading to the social acceptance of African Americans and other minority groups. Americans’ have elected their first minority President and he won’t be the last. After 43 Presidential elections Americans made history by elected their 44th President, in 2008 Barack Obama, an African American man, was nominated and elected President of the United States. Obama was not the first African American to run for the honored position as United States President, the honor of the first African American who ran for this position belongs to a woman. In 1968, as a Democratic Party nomination for Presidency, Shirley Chisholm of New York made history by running not only being the first African American woman to run for President. She was followed by Jesse Jackson who ran for President in 1984 and 1988 and Lenora Fulani who also ran in 1988. In 2004, Carol Mosely Braun and Minister Al Sharpton also ran as Democratic Party candidates for United States President. The only African American Republican to run for President has been Alan Keys, he ran in 1996 and 2000. Obama faces criticism for not being 'black enough' even though anyone with even a small percentage of African American blood is considered, mixed blood has never before kept a man from being considered ‘black’ until the chance of a ‘black man’ being elected President became probable. For example, historical evidence has shown that Warren G. Harding the 29th President of the United States, serving from 1921 1923 was an 'octoroon' passing as white, with one African-American great-grandparent. Evidence of his mixed ancestry and the efforts to cover it up by his family because in the 1920’s even a hint of African American ancestry would have ruined his political career. Obviously even an individual with a smaller percentage of African American blood than President Barack Obama have been deemed ‘black enough’ for it to ruin their careers so claims that President Obama isn’t black enough are unfounded and just another attempt to belittle and criticize a black man for attempting to be great. African American have desired to lead their country for half a century, their country however, wasn’t ready for a minority leader until the state affairs became a mockery that was questioned by both it’s citizens and foreign allies. Some say that President Obama was the least qualified of all major candidates in both parties and the farthest to the left; with absolutely no military experience and no foreign policy experience. If this is true, then the question that begs to be answered is what prompted Americans to elect him as their President. Is the war on terror the only contributing factor that resulted in the election of an African American man as President of a country who historically only elected married Christian white middle aged males as their President or did the power of the media and youth lead to this victory? No, the war on terror is not what determined the 44th President of the United States. President Obama’s landmark victory was due, in part, to a groundswell of support among young Americans; he won nearly 70% of the vote among young Americans under 25. Unlike the African American who ran in the past President Obama had the media in his corner; the internet with social networking sites like Facebook and Youtube had significant impact on each candidate’s ability to garner voters support. With 2 million American supporters on Facebook and over 1500 video’s on YouTube about Barack Obama, it’s no wonder that his name and face was recognizable by so many. When Barack Obama first announced his candidacy, many said that America was not ready to elect a black president and that he could not garner the votes necessary to defeat first the Democratic favorite, Hillary Clinton, and later John McCain in a nationwide election. Understanding the power of the media and influence American youth who are taking more active roles in politics is how President Barack Obama and his team managed to accomplish the difficult task of getting an African American elected as President. Debaters still argue whether that American’s first African American President is qualified for his role or not; the fact remains that whether he is ready or not his is President and has a duty to do his best just as the Presidents before him have done. Race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation should not have any bearings on the qualification of a presidential candidate; the fact that these characteristic do have influence the perception of a person’s ability proves that America hasn’t come as far as many minorities would hope for. Shunryu Suzuki says “Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer.” A change has been made, it’s up to American citizens to accept that minorities are no longer minorities; men and women of every race, religion and sexual orientation know that in electing an African American as President we are one step closer to genuine equality in all Americans.

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