Posted tagged ‘African American’

Barack Obama Becomes Nation’s 44th President

January 20, 2009

A historical moment indeed this morning as Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s 44th President.

I’ll never forget where I was on the morning of Tuesday, January 20, 2009. I’ll be able to tell my children that I was a witness to history. Barack Obama, the first African American elected to the highest office in the land.

Now, its my hope that President Obama can step into office and begin to fix the many problems that we are seeing in the United States today.

Thoughts?

From the New York Times:

Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th president of the United States Tuesday, and called on Americans to join him in confronting what he described as an economic crisis caused by greed but also “our collective failure to make hard choices.”

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real,” Mr. Obama said in his inaugural address minutes after he took the oath of office on the same bible used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inaugural in 1861. “They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.”

Mr. Obama, the first African American to serve as president, spoke to a sea of cheering people, hundreds of thousands of Americans packed on the National Mall from the Capitol to beyond the Washington monument. The multitude was filled with black Americans and Mr. Obama’s triumph was a special and emotional moment for them.

With his wife, Michelle, holding the Bible, Mr. Obama, the 47-year-old son of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Africa, was sworn in just after noon, a little later than planned, and spoke immediately thereafter.

In his speech, Mr. Obama promised to take “bold and swift” action to restore the economy by creating jobs through public works projects, improving education, promoting alternative energy and relying on new technology.

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” Mr. Obama said in a prepared copy of his remarks.

The new president also noted the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the “far-reaching network of violence and hatred” that seeks to harm the country. He used strong language in pledging to confront terrorism, nuclear proliferation and other threats from abroad, saying to the nation’s enemies, “you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

But he also signaled a clean break from some of the Bush administration’s policies on national security. “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,” he said, adding that the United States is “ready to lead once more.”

He acknowledged that some are skeptical of his ability to fulfill the hope that many have in his ability to move the nation in a new direction.

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply,” said Mr. Obama, who ran for stressing a commitment to reduce partisanship. “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”

Hundreds of thousands of people packed the National Mall from the West Front of the Capitol to beyond the Washington monument, buttoned up against the freezing chill but projecting a palpable sense of hope as Mr. Obama becomes the first African American to hold the nation’s highest elected office. It was the largest inaugural crowd in decades, perhaps the largest ever; the throng and the anticipation began building even before the sun rose.

After his speech, following a carefully designed script that played out all morning, Mr. Obama was to head inside the Capitol and sign nomination papers for the Cabinet members he chose in the weeks following his Nov. 4 victory. The Senate is to confirm some of those new Cabinet secretaries this afternoon, but Republicans planned to delay the confirmation of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state for at least one day.

Mr. Obama, who attended church earlier in the day, had coffee with President Bush and his wife, Laura, and then rode with them in a motorcade to Capitol Hill, will then join Congressional leaders and other dignitaries at a luncheon in Statuary Hall. That will be followed by a review of the troops — his first as commander-in-chief — before he travels back downtown at the front of the inaugural parade, which he will then watch from the reviewing stand at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The crowd, before noon, was easily well into the hundreds of thousands.

From the Associated Press:

Braving frigid temperatures, an exuberant crowd of hundreds of thousands packed the National Mall on Tuesday to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as America’s first black president. He grasps the reins of power in a high-noon ceremony amid grave economic worries and high expectations.

It was the first change of administrations since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Crowds filled the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol for a glimpse of the proceedings and, in the words of many, simply “to be here.” Washington’s subway system was jammed and two downtown stations were closed when a woman was struck by a subway train.

Two years after beginning his improbable quest as a little-known, first-term Illinois senator with a foreign-sounding name, Obama moves into the Oval Office as the nation’s fourth youngest president, at 47, and the first African-American, a barrier-breaking achievement believed impossible by generations of minorities.

Around the world, Obama’s election electrified millions with the hope that America will be more embracing, more open to change.

The dawn of the new Democratic era — with Obama allies in charge of both houses of Congress — ends eight years of Republican control of the White House by George W. Bush. He leaves Washington as one of the nation’s most unpopular and divisive presidents, the architect of two unfinished wars and the man in charge at a time of economic calamity that swept away many Americans’ jobs, savings and homes.

Bush — following tradition — left a note for Obama in the top drawer of his desk in the Oval Office.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said the theme of the message — which Bush wrote on Monday — was similar to what he has said since election night: that Obama is about to begin a “fabulous new chapter” in the United States, and that he wishes him well.

The unfinished business of the Bush administration thrusts an enormous burden onto the new administration, though polls show Americans are confident Obama is on track to succeed. He has cautioned that improvements will take time and that things will get worse before they get better.

Culminating four days of celebration, the nation’s 56th inauguration day began for Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden with a traditional morning worship service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Park from the White House. Bells pealed from the historic church’s tower as Obama and his wife, Michelle, arrived five minutes behind schedule.

The festivities won’t end until well after midnight, with dancing and partying at 10 inaugural balls.

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Al Qaeda Leader Insults Barack Obama

November 19, 2008

One of Al-Qaida‘s top leaders insulted Barack Obama in a message posted earlier today, using a demeaning racial term implying that the president-elect is a black American who does the bidding of whites.

From the Associated Press:

The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

In al-Qaida’s first response to Obama’s victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect — along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — “house negroes.”

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term “abeed al-beit,” which literally translates as “house slaves.” But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as “house negroes.”

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters’ house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.

The 11-minute 23-second video features the audio message by al-Zawahri, who appears only in a still image, along with other images, including one of Obama wearing a Jewish skullcap as he meets with Jewish leaders. In his speech, al-Zawahri refers to a Nov. 5 U.S. airstrike attack in Afghanistan, meaning the video was made after that date.

Al-Zawahri said Obama’s election has not changed American policies he said are aimed at oppressing Muslims and others.

From MSNBC:

The tape also criticizes Obama for his position on Israel, stating that this proves his “stance of hostility to Islam and Muslims”.

Al-Zawahri also urged Muslims to continue attacks against “criminal America”.

The 11 minute and 23 second message is the first public comment by an al-Qaida about Obama’s electoral victory.

In the wake of the tape, a senior counterterrorism official told NBC News there is no intelligence to indicate any impending attack on the United States or on the president-elect.

The official said statements by security officials about “high danger” during the transition were purely an “analytic concern,” based on previous al-Qaida involvement in the political process both in the United States and elsewhere.

Why Proposition 8 Passed in California…

November 7, 2008

There are a lot of people who continue to fight the outcome of the vote on this issue on Tuesday night in California. The question on half the state’s mind is this: Why did voters pass this proposition in quite possibly the most liberal state in the nation? John Cloud of TIME Magazine has written an interesting piece which discusses what happened over the final few weeks of the campaign to cause a shift in the vote.

From TIME:

Nov. 4 may have been a joyous day for liberals, but it wasn’t a great day for lesbians and gays. Three big states – Arizona, California and Florida – voted to change their constitutions to define marriage as a heterosexuals-only institution. The losses cut deep on the gay side. Arizona had rejected just such a constitutional amendment only two years ago. It had been the first and only state to have rebuffed a constitutional ban on marriage equality. In Florida, where the law requires constitutional amendments to win by 60%, a marriage amendment passed with disturbing ease, 62.1% to 37.9%.

And then there was California. Gay strategists working for marriage equality in this election cycle had focused most of their attention on that state. Losing there dims hopes that shimmered brightly just a few weeks ago – hopes that in an Obama America, straight people would be willing to let gay people have the basic right to equality in their personal relationships. It appears not.

The California vote was close but not razor-thin: as of 10 a.m. P.T., with 96.4% of precincts reporting, gays had lost 52.2% to 47.8%. Obama did not suffer the much-discussed “Bradley effect” this year, but it appears that gay people were afflicted by some version of it. As of late October, a Field Poll found that the pro-gay side was winning 49% to 44%, with 7% undecided. But gays could not quite make it to 49% on Election Day, meaning a few people may have been unwilling to tell pollsters that they intended to vote against equal marriage rights.

Gays are used to losing these constitutional amendment battles – as I said, Arizona was the only exception – but gay activists cannot claim they didn’t have the money to wage the California fight. According to an analysis of the most recent reports from the California secretary of state, the pro-equality side raised an astonishing $43.6 million, compared with just $29.8 million for those who succeeded in keeping gays from marrying. The money the gay side raised is surprising for two reasons: first, the cash-Hoover known as the Obama campaign was sucking down millions of dollars a day from the nation’s liberals. Many gays expected it to be difficult to raise money to fight Proposition 8 and its plan to outlaw same-sex marriage from Democrats eager to give to Obama and to the outside 527 groups supporting him. As recently as August, one of the nation’s top gay political givers told me that he expected the gay side to raise no more than $25 million.

A symbolic low point for the gay side came on Oct. 13, when the Sacramento Bee ran a remarkable story about Rick and Pam Patterson, a Mormon couple of modest means – he drives a 10-year-old Honda Civic, she raises their five boys – who had withdrawn $50,000 from their savings account and given it to the pro-8 campaign. “It was a decision we made very prayerfully,” Pam Patterson, 48, told the Bee’s Jennifer Garza. “Was it an easy decision? No. But it was a clear decision, one that had so much potential to benefit our children and their children.”

You could argue that marriage equality has little to do with children, but Patterson seemed to speak to Californians’ inchoate phobias about gays and kids. On the Friday before the Bee story appeared, a group of San Francisco first-graders was taken to city hall to see their lesbian teacher marry her partner. Apparently the field trip was a parent’s idea – not the teacher’s – but the optics of the event were terrible for the gay side. It seemed like so much indoctrination.

That news came around the same time the pro-amendment forces were running a devastating ad showing a self-satisfied San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom shouting wild-eyed at a rally that same-sex marriage was inevitable “whether you like it or not.” The announcer then said darkly, “It’s no longer about tolerance. Acceptance of gay marriage is now mandatory.” Many fence sitters were turned off by Newsom’s arrogance; blogger Andrew Sullivan attributed mid-October polls against the gay side to the “Newsom effect.”

Gays came back in some polls, but they couldn’t pull out a win. Part of the reason is that Obama inspired unprecedented numbers of African Americans to vote. Polls show that black voters are more likely to attend church than whites and less likely to be comfortable with equality for gay people. According to CNN, African Americans voted against marriage equality by a wide margin, 69% to 31%. High turnout of African Americans in Florida probably help explain that state’s lopsided vote to ban same-sex weddings.

Change Has Come To America…Barack Obama Elected President

November 5, 2008

This evening, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States, and the first African American elected to the highest office in the land. It was a truly historic night that and I know that I will always remember where I was on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. (PT).

As I sat on my bed with my one year old son and three year old daughter, I thought about how much this country has changed over the past 50 years. I told them that someday I would explain to them exactly why this was such an important day in history, although at this time, they are far too young to understand.

I spoke with my mom who grew up for some of her life down in the South. She saw segregation, she saw racism and she saw how unfairly people were treated. She told me that she never thought that she would see this day, but it was very emotional for her as well as for so many others in this country.

A triumphant Obama vowed in his speech this evening to be a President for all America, even those who voted against him. Heasked for patience to address the nation’s problems of war and finance that he called the greatest challenges of a lifetime.

From CNN:

Barack Obama told supporters that “change has come to America” as he claimed victory in a historic presidential election.

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there,” Obama said in Chicago, Illinois, before an estimated crowd of up to 240,000 people.

With Obama’s projected win, he will become the first African-American to win the White House.

Obama had an overwhelming victory over Sen. John McCain, who pledged Tuesday night to help Obama lead.

“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” McCain said.

McCain called Obama to congratulate him, and Obama told the Arizona senator he was eager to sit down and talk about how the two of them can work together.

President Bush also called Obama to offer his congratulations.

Bush told Obama he was about to begin one of the great journeys of his life, and invited him to visit the White House as soon as it could be arranged, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Obama will be working with a heavily Democratic Congress. Democrats picked up Senate seats in New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia, among others.

From the Associated Press:

The first black president-elect cast his election as a defining moment in the country’s 232-year history and a rebuke to cynicism, fear and doubt.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” he said in his first public words after winning the election.

His victory speech was delivered before a multiracial crowd that city officials estimated at 240,000 people. Many cried and nodded their heads while he spoke, surrounded by clear bulletproof screens on his left and right.

He appeared on stage with his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, poised to become the first family of color ever to occupy the White House. Every family member dressed in black and red, and Obama told his daughters during his speech that they would get the puppy he promised would come with a victory.

“Even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century,” he said. “There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and, for us to lead, alliances to repair.”

He was already suggesting a second term to accomplish his goals, saying he expected “setbacks and false starts.”

“We may not get there in one year or even one term,” he said. “But America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there.”

To those who voted against him, he said, “I will be your president, too.”

Obama, an Illinois senator born 47 years ago of a white American mother and a black African father, sprinkled his address with references to the civil rights struggle. He paid tribute to Ann Nixon Cooper, a 106-year-old daughter of slaves born at a time when women and blacks couldn’t vote. She cast her ballot in Atlanta Tuesday, Obama said.

From MSNBC:

The election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States overwhelmed many African-American voters, especially older ones who still vividly recall the dark days of Jim Crow.

Obama won 95 percent support from black voters nationwide, according to msnbc.com’s analysis of exit polling data. One of them was Ellora Lyons, 81, of Peoria, Ill.

Lyons recounted boarding a train to Oklahoma with her two oldest boys in 1948. Her brother had been killed in an accident, and they were going to his funeral.

“There was a sign on this train that said, ‘n—–s to the back,’” she said. “And we couldn’t drink out of the same water fountain.”

“I remember my mom and my dad talking about black folks being not able to vote,” Lyons said. “I never thought that I would see a black man [in the White House], but I was hoping that one day that a black man would run for president.”

Leon Modeste of Community Outreach Ministry in Albany, Ga., said, “Never in my wildest dream did I think that an African-American would even be considered, let alone get this close to the presidency.

“I figured maybe my grandchildren or something,” would live to see it, but not him, Modeste said.

John McCain Concedes Defeat to Barack Obama

November 5, 2008

In a poignant concession speech to his followers in Arizona, Republican Senator John McCain has conceded the 2008 Presidential election to his opponent, Democrat Barack Obama.

From MSNBC:

Barack Obama, a 47-year-old first-term senator from Illinois, shattered more than 200 years of history Tuesday night by winning election as the first African-American president in the history of the United States, according to projections by NBC News.

Obama reached the 270 electoral votes he needed for election at 11 p.m. ET, when NBC News projected that he would win California, Washington and Oregon. The Associated Press reported shortly after 11 p.m. that Obama’s opponent, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, had called Obama to offer his congratulations.

Campaigning as a technocratic agent of change in Washington pathbreaking civil rights figure, Obama swept to victory over McCain , whose running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was seeking to become the nation’s first female vice president.

From CNN:

Sen. John McCain on Tuesday urged all Americans to join him in congratulating Sen. Barack Obama on his projected victory in the presidential election.

“I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face,” McCain said before his supporters in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” he said.

McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, was standing with him, but she did not speak.

McCain called Obama to congratulate him, Obama’s campaign said.

Obama thanked McCain for his graciousness and said he had waged a tough race.

President Bush also called Obama to congratulate him.

With his projected win, Obama will become the nation’s 44th president and its first African-American leader.

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama

October 20, 2008

I had a feeling that it was coming soon but the way it was presented was very eloquent and gives Barack Obama a shot in the arm as we are just two weeks away from Election Day. On Sunday’s ‘Meet the Press’, Powell expressed disappointment in the negative tone of Senator John McCain’s campaign, his choice of  Sarah Palin as his running mate and their decision to focus in the closing weeks of the contest on Obama’s ties to 1960s-era radical William Ayers.

From the Associated Press:

Colin Powell, a Republican and retired general who was President Bush’s first secretary of state, broke with the party Sunday and endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president, calling him a “transformational figure” while criticizing the tone of John McCain’s campaign.

The former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said either senator is qualified to be commander in chief. But after studying both, he concluded that Obama is better suited than McCain, the standard-bearer of Powell’s own party, to handle the nation’s economic problems and help improve its world standing.

“It isn’t easy for me to disappoint Sen. McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that,” Powell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he announced the endorsement and delivered a serious blow to the aspirations of his longtime friend, Arizona Sen. McCain.

But, Powell added: “I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that’s why I’m supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain.”

The endorsement by Powell amounted to a stunning rejection of McCain, a 26-year veteran of Congress and a former Vietnam prisoner of war who has campaigned as the experienced, tested candidate who knows how to keep the country safe.

Powell’s endorsement has been much anticipated because of his impressive foreign policy credentials, a subject on which Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, is weak. Powell is a Republican centrist popular among moderate voters.

At the same time, Powell is a black man and Obama would be the nation’s first black president — a goal Powell considered pursuing for himself in 1996, before deciding not to run. Powell said he was cognizant of the racial aspect of his endorsement, but said that was not the dominant factor in his decision.

From the AFP:

Democrat Barack Obama won the coveted endorsement of former secretary of state Colin Powell Sunday as he entered the final fortnight before election day flush with cash to unleash against Republican John McCain.

The Illinois senator, who is riding high in the polls ahead of the November 4 election, more than doubled his fundraising record with a mammoth September haul of more than 150 million dollars, aides said.

The extravaganza of giving enabled Obama to demolish his previous one-month record of 66 million dollars in August, which had already set him fair to hit McCain hard with a nationwide advertising blitz in the closing stages.

The Republican Powell, on NBC program “Meet the Press,” said Obama had “met the standard” to be commander-in-chief “because of his ability to inspire” Americans of all ages and ethnic and political stripes.

“I think he would be a transformational president. For that reason I will be voting for Senator Barack Obama,” said Powell, who was the first African-American to serve as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

Should the mixed-race Obama win in just over two weeks, “all Americans should be proud, not just African-Americans,” he added.

From the Associated Press:

Colin Powell will have a role as a top presidential adviser in an Obama administration, the Democratic White House hopeful said Monday.

“He will have a role as one of my advisers,” Barack Obama said on NBC’s “Today” in an interview aired Monday, a day after Powell, a four-star general and President Bush’s former secretary of state, endorsed him.

“Whether he wants to take a formal role, whether that’s a good fit for him, is something we’d have to discuss,” Obama said.

Being a top presidential adviser, especially on foreign policy, would be familiar ground to Powell on a subject that’s relatively new to the freshman Illinois senator. Obama has struggled to establish his foreign policy credentials against GOP candidate John McCain, a decorated military veteran, former prisoner of war and ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In the NBC interview, Obama said Powell did not give him a heads-up before he crossed party lines and endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate on the network’s “Meet the Press” a day earlier.

In that interview, Powell called Obama a “transformational figure” in the nation’s history and expressed disappointment in some of McCain’s campaign tactics. But, Powell said, he didn’t plan to hit the campaign trail with Obama before the Nov. 4 election.

“I won’t lie to you, I would love to have him at any stop,” Obama said with a grin Monday. “Obviously, if he wants to show up he’s got an open invitation.”

Powell’s endorsement came just hours after Obama’s campaign disclosed that it raised $150 million in September — obliterating the old record of $66 million it had set only one month earlier.

Barack Obama Accepts Presidential Nomination

August 29, 2008

Barack Obama has officially accepted the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States and in his acceptance speech, declared that the “American promise has been threatened” by eight years under President Bush. He also made it clear that John McCain represented a continuation of the Bush presidency which undermined the nation’s economy and discredited our standing around the world.

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Credit: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

From the New York Times:

The speech by Senator Obama of Illinois — in front of an audience of nearly 80,000 people on a warm night in a football stadium refashioned into a vast political stage for television viewers — left little doubt of how he intended to press his campaign against Mr. McCain this fall. And he linked Mr. McCain to what he described as the “failed presidency of George W. Bush” in cutting language that seemed intended to reassure nervous Democrats that he had the spine to take on what has proven this summer to be a scrappy Republican opponent.

“The record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time,” Mr. Obama said. “Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush was right more than 90 percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.”

“America, we are better than these last eight years,” he said. “We are a better country than this.”

The speech by Mr. Obama loomed as arguably the most important of his campaign to date. It was an opportunity to present himself to Americans who were just now beginning to tune in on this campaign, to make the case against Mr. McCain and to offer what many Democrat said he has failed to offer to date: a idea of what Mr. Obama stood for, beyond a promise of change.

With his speech, Mr. Obama closed out his party’s convention here and prepared for a quick shift of public attention to Republicans as Mr. McCain names his running-mate on Friday and his party begins its convention in St. Paul, Minn., on Monday.