Barack Obama – The first black American President?

By Myles Edwards                  16 May 2007

obama

Barack Obama

“There is not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America – there’s the United States of America”, the words of a Mr Barack Obama.

Is it any wonder why Barack Obama is drawing such widespread multi-cultural support from all across America?

Barack Obama first came to public attention at the Democratic Convention in 2004 where he made one of the most famous speeches in recent American history.  His aim was ‘A United America’, an America which treated each individual citizen with equality.

It is ironic that at the time of his memorable speech, John Kerry was running for President of the US, yet, the then, non-elected Obama’s words were met with a far greater cheer and produced a tidal wave of emotions from the vast audience.

Obama was a breath of fresh air to many American’s who found John Kerry’s “reporting for duty” Presidential campaign based purely on his heroics in Vietnam, rather than inspiring aims of equality and eradication of discrimination, which Obama believes should, and can, become reality.

Having been on the Illinois Senate for 8 years, following his sensational speech in 2004, Barack Obama gained 70 percent of the vote to be elected to the U.S. senate.

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, 1961.  His Kenyan father left two years later and Barack’s white American mother moved the family to Jakarta, Indonesia.  Barack was educated at a predominantly Muslim school.  At the age of ten the family returned to the U.S.A. – a choice which could possibly change the outlook of America forever.

It is no coincidence that Time magazine chose Barack Obama in their top 100 most influential people in the world list in 2005. 

However, he does not produce the same emotion as he did in 2004.  He now takes on a more relaxed approach.  His explanation for this modification within himself is that he does not want to be seen as “excitable”.  He’d rather be recognised as “exciting”.  He wants to continue proving himself to the US public as unique and not a prototype of previous, easily-excitable black Presidential candidates such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.  Everyone knows he can deliver an inspiring speech but he wants to put his ‘thought process on display’.

The United States of America is dominated by race.  However, does Barack Obama represent hope that race does not matter, that an American can be measured purely upon their achievements and not their ethnicity?

Despite a high level of popularity with African-Americans, there is a growing feeling that Obama is “not black enough”. This is because his ancestors did not experience slavery or segregation. 

 This notion does not reflect what Obama is attempting to achieve, in a ‘United America’ of the future.  These whispers suggest that the approaches adopted by Jackson and Sharpton are more effective in gaining the African-American vote.  Obama is likely to view this only as a challenge.

Nevertheless, certain polls suggest that this ‘United America’ is only just around the corner.  In 1968, 53 percent of voters said they would not vote for a black candidate.  This figure dropped dramatically, to 6 percent in 2003.  Race is becoming so much less of an issue that Obama’s smoking habit is more likely to put Americans off voting for him.

With Hillary Clinton posing tough opposition to Obama’s charge for Presidency, it can be said that the Democrats are pushing the barriers of race, and also gender, which have previously haunted the US so significantly.  Both have a realistic chance of winning the Presidential elections, and a breaking free from the America of past.

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