Do you know Count Basie1, Dinah Washington2, Lionel Hampton3 and Duke Ellington4? These artists were superstars of American Music in the early 1940’s. They were as big as the giants of music today. They pushed music to new creative heights and laid the foundation for many forms of music today.
“You have to know the past to understand the present.” This quote by Carl Sagan5 makes an important point that is often overlooked by many people today. Barack Obama is keenly aware of the past as he lays another floor in the building of the future for African Americans.
Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States and faced a terrible economy and inherited several foreign wars when he assumed office in 2009. He also had to deal with a Republican plot6 to obstruct everything he did before he even took office.
Despite all the roadblocks Republicans placed in front of President Obama, he has accomplished many goals that have benefited the American people. The Washington Monthly Magazine has listed 50 top accomplishments7, of President Obama.
You may say he didn’t do enough for African-Americans while in office. This thought has some merit, but let’s think about how difficult it was for black people in the past.
Do you know of the Dred Scott8 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court? The Dred Scott decision states that African Americans are not, and can never be, citizens of the United States and are therefore not entitled to sue in federal court. Think about living through that decision!
You probably know about Brown v. Topeka Board of Education9 Supreme Court ruling that ended the “separate but equal” doctrine adopted in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896. What do you know about Plessy v. Ferguson10?
The Plessy decision set the precedent that “separate” facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional as long as they were “equal.” African-Americans knew all too well that nothing is equal in America.
People like Homer Plessy, Frederick Douglas11, Oliver Brown and others laid the foundation for the Civil Rights that we enjoy today. President Obama and the rest of us are advancing the Civil Rights agenda as we reach for equality.
Some people feel uncomfortable when African-Americans take to the streets for equal justice. They should not fear democracy in action. As President, Harry S. Truman said, “I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.“
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