Where Do We Go From Here?

By Todd A. Smith

            Four years really seems like a blur.  In January 2008, Americans of all walks of life celebrated the unthinkable election of President Barack Obama as a milestone for our great country.

            Americans had looked past the differences of color to elect a president based on the content of his character and not just the color of his skin. 

The impact of Obama’s inauguration could be summed up as euphoria for the Black community.  Like most Americans, we bought into his message of hope and change wholeheartedly, but what will happen when he leaves office in four years time?  Will we continue with his message of hope and change, or will we go back to the status quo.

            Unfortunately for many, the presidency of Obama has almost become hero worship, but in order for his presidency to have its full impact we need to heed the “hero’s” message and not worship the so-called hero.

            In 2008, the impact of Obama was evident. 

A record number of African Americans and young people voted for the first time because they wanted to be a part of history.  During the 2012 election, that enthusiasm was more subdued because many had grown accustomed to seeing an African American family residing in the White House, but voter turnout was still high.  According to the Los Angeles Times, African Americans represented 13 percent of voters, despite only representing 12 percent of the U.S. population in 2012 like it did in 2008.

            Furthermore, in 2008, many who did not even support the Obama presidential ticket could be proud at the progress our country had made in the area of race relations. 

However in 2012, the country seemed more divided than ever along Black and White lines, as well as red and blue lines.

            Nevertheless, if the impact of Obama is to be a positive one and an enduring one, we must look less to the man and more to the message and the image of his presidency.

            His presidency represents the true potential of Americans both Black and White if we change our way of interacting with each other. 

The country has been able to continue living up to its potential by electing a record number of women to the United States Congress and re-electing its first Black president.  According to Reuters.com, the 113th Congress consists of 80 women in the House of Representatives and 20 women in the Senate.

            The impact of Obama really resonates with his message of inclusion, which includes health care for all, potential immigration reform and an open military. 

Our founding fathers preached about equality for all and for virtually the first time in American history that prophecy has become a reality.

            As a result of the impact of Obama, many African American children began realistically believing that they could one day be the leader of the free world.  After the 2008 election, many children of all colors were motivated to achieve excellence in the classroom because they envisioned themselves as the next Obama.

            After 2016, African Americans should still emulate leaders like Obama and not the celebrity image that Hollywood tries to sell our youth through violent music and stereotypical reality television shows.

            The African American community has to continue to vote at record levels, in all elections not just presidential elections, if we are to continue to move forward in life.

            When Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, many believed that bigots had killed the dream along with the dreamer.  However, leaders like Jesse Jackson and Ralph Abernathy took up the dream and carried it out until the dream became a reality with the election of Obama.

            If the impact of Obama is to be lasting after Obama is no longer in office, it is up to every individual to live out his message of hope and change on a daily basis, because if we do not, all of the forward progress will begin moving in reverse and his presidential mission will all be for naught.

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