What Barack Obama Meant to African Americans

By Patrick Barron, Opinion Writer

I will never forget the night of November 4, 2008. As a kid, I watched CNN declare Barack Hussein Obama II, the 44th President of the United States of America. It warmed my heart to see that I was not the only individual who rejoiced knowing the next president would be an African-American.

This was a first for the country and a dream come true for me.

It was a culmination of the American Dream: a black man holding the most powerful position in a country which historically oppressed his people. Many African-Americans believed that we had finally overcome our struggles as many Americans of countless backgrounds helped make Obama’s inauguration possible.

However, what was most notable of Obama was how he helped instill hope in us and set the blueprint for future generations. It was possible to achieve the American Dream.

Many critics, including racists, did not wish to see him succeed. Among these opponents were those behind the “Birther movement”, who falsely cited his illegitimacy as president claiming he was not born in the U.S. Many also labelled him a “one-term president”. Though it took strength and discipline, Obama eventually countered his antagonists by becoming one of our better presidents.

Although a number of people wanted Obama to fail and even sabotaged his plans, their “success” was hollow. It was an empty victory as his proposed policies, which he intended to help millions of Americans, became watered-down laws. We know that Obama was not always in the clear with his comments and polices, but he was our black president.

Yes, some of us blindly followed him, wrong to do, but when a person admires another individual it is difficult not to.

Additionally, Obama expanded the recipe for black aspirations by including the President of the United States. Millions of young African-Americans have known of male white presidents. One day, young black people across the nation will learn of an amazing president who helped us recover from one of the worst national recessions.

According to last year’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, our unemployment rate is 4.7 percent which mirrors the booming economy before the recession. Barack Obama was the president who guided us out of that terrible slump.

No reward is greater than the ecstatic reaction of a black child who knows of the first black family in the White House. We often hear of former presidents who are idolized by the younger generation. African-Americans are proud to know that Obama will be on the list of the greatest presidents our country has ever had.

Regardless of a person’s ideological belief, one can concede Obama’s great importance to blacks in the country. Throughout our country’s history, there have been attempts by other distinguished African-Americans such as Shirley Chisholm and Jesse Jackson to become President; Obama won it.

For us, when Obama was inaugurated, it was as if the baton in the fight for minority equality had been passed on. Two terms and several achievements later, such as Obamacare and ending the costly war in Iraq, Obama has done the American people a great public service.

According to CNN, Obama left office with one of the highest approval ratings of an outgoing President as 60 percent of adult Americans were in favor of him.

Obama gave many of us reason to believe that change can result in a better America for all.

History repeats itself and one day, American will have another black president.

Weathering the harsh storm from some of his staunchest adversaries, Obama remained cool, calm, and collected during his presidential terms.

I miss President Obama and it gives me much needed comfort to know that the African-American community feels the same too.


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 24th print edition.

Contact Patrick at



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