By Nonso Nwagbo
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama
President Barack Obama was born in 1961, two years before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s vibrant and iconic ‘I Have A Dream’ speech in 1963. Forty-five years later, he became the 44th president and the first African American commander-in-chief of the world’s greatest nation.
As the son of a white liberal woman and an African immigrant, becoming the first elected black president of a multiracial nation plagued by a racist past and civil rights movements was no mean feat at all.
But right from his Harvard University days serving as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama appeared to be destined for greatness.
Why Barack Obama Is Significant To Black History
Frederick Douglass, in 1984 became the first black person to run for vice president in the United States of America. More than two decades later, Democratic Senator Barack Obama became the first African American to be nominated for a major party’s presidential race. Obama would end up winning the presidential election against Republican John McCain.
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This was both a record and a moment for the history books. It was a turning point in the history of our great nation and for the black race.
- Under Barack Obama’s presidency, the appreciation for black history was at an all-time high. In tune with black history’s appreciation, black cultural projects like the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture, the Obama presidency ended with considerable emphasis on how the nation conceives Black history in public spaces. In many ways, and despite whatever uncertainties lie ahead, Obama’s attempts to memorialize more of the African-American experience enhanced the meaning of being an American.
- President Obama established a national monument to the Reconstruction era/period with sites in Beaufort, South Carolina, St. Helena Island, and Port Royal. In addition to that,
- President Obama announced the creation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Alabama. He also designated sites from the 1960s Birmingham civil rights campaigns as historic. Thus changing the perspective of what and who deserved memorializing in America.
- History will remember his tenure for plunging African-American families’ poverty rates way faster in 2015 than any government since 1999.
- Obama introduced the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in February of 2014. The initiative focused on addressing the gaps in opportunity encountered by boys and men of color to help them reach their full potential.
- His tenure saw the fall of incarceration amongst African-American people and gave significant funding for HBCUs between 2007 and 2014, from $523 million to $824 million. In doing so, he diversified his fight for black advancement to social justice and education.
- According to the Department of Education, in 2013, the national high school graduation rate hit 81.4 percent. Between 2010-11 and 2012-13, graduation rates for Black students increased by nearly four percentage points from 67 percent to 70.7 percent.
Barack Obama’s Significance And Contribution To The City Of Chicago
Obama met Michelle Robinson, a South Side native and Princeton University and Harvard Law School graduate who supervised his firm’s work. The Obamas settled in Chicago’s racially integrated, middle-class Hyde Park neighborhood.
President Barack Obama has chosen Chicago as his adopted home. Obama delivered his victory speech in Grant Park before hundreds of thousands of supporters. His inspirational farewell speech was delivered at McCormick Place convention center, both historic sites in Chicago. But in addition to being a political stronghold and a farewell point for Obama, Chicago meant a little more to 44.
Here are some of his contributions to his adopted city:
- He helped in reforming the transport system of the city. A parting gift of a $1 billion grant was given to the CTA to cover half the cost of renovating the Red and Purple CTA train lines. This cements his legacy as an advocate for efforts to make it safer and more convenient for people to bike, walk and ride public transportation around the city,
- He helped declare a national monument in the Pullman neighborhood, where he served as a community organizer years back. This act gave the south side a route to federal funds, benefits, and improvements.
- He directed the Illinois Project Vote, a voter registration drive to increase black turnout in the 1992 election.
- He served three terms in the Illinois Senate between 1997 to 2004.Obama Library may help To Reshape the South Side. Obama’s presidential library is set to be built in Jackson Park.
Even though former President Barack Obama has left office, some of his legacies will be spoken of for years to come. And in becoming the first African-American president in the history of the US, he has helped reshape the history of black people in this nation.