Across the nation, January 20th signifies the federal holiday celebrated in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s birthday. It also marks the day when President Barack Obama offically took office on that cold winter day in 2009. Now in his fifth year, President Obama has faced uncharted scrutiny for a man who was a darling of voters when he won the election back in 2008. But along with the criticism that continues to rain down, there are many notable contributions the President has made to the Black community.
Judiciary and Military Appointments
Since the time of his first election, there has always been talk of Obama’s significance to African Americans and his will to address the concerns of Black America. While the President affirms his agenda in a variety of ways that effects all Americans, his impact on the Black community is still potent although critics claim he has not done enough.
During his post, President Obama has nominated 287 persons for the bench. Of that number, 55 were African American and 41 have been confirmed. Additionally, 30 Latinos have been nominated with 27 receiving confirmation.
The President’s confirmed judiciary appointments who are Black far exceed his predecessors, dwarfing former President George W. Bush by 10 percentage points. Even President Bill Clinton, still beloved by Black voters, was beat out by two points. And the work doesn’t just end there.
Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, who was confirmed as the Navy’s new Vice Chief of Naval Operations last month, was also the first woman and Black person to be nominated for the post by President Obama. Once again, the President has diversified his appointments thus showing a willingness to pull from deserving pools of talent that include Black people.
Although plagued by a difficult roll out, the Affordable Care Act was aimed at ending the disparity in health care among African Americans and other people of color overall. The Obama administration estimates that more than 8 million African Americans will benefit greatly from the law, and the Health Department has been active in recent times in explaining the nuances of the act to that group.
The Black Family
The President has been vocal about the necessity of strong parenting in the Black community, especially the presence of fathers in the lives of their children. The two-parent household has long been considered a dwindling reality among African Americans; so the lasting images of the President, his wife, and two daughters encourage other Black families to keep their families together, making his lifestyle more of a norm rather than an exception.
As a leader of this nation, Obama has to assume positions of sternness and measured speech. Under ever-watchful eyes, the President sometimes presents a steely image depending on the situation. But that clinical coldness is melted away in photos with the First Lady, showing a man unfettered in showering his wife with love and affection. It is in those tender moments that we realize that the President is a husband and father first ahead of his responsibilities in public office.
Despite his humble beginnings, President Obama has shown tenacity and resilience in becoming the nation’s first Black president. Raised by a single parent, struggling with his identity, and ultimately finding his footing via academics, the President found a way to will himself to higher heights.
The historical weight alone of his crowning political achievement would be enough for many, but there are other factors that deserve a mention.
In the face of all the rigors of leading the country and his household, President Obama’s radiant example symbolizes that any of us can achieve what he has with the proper focus. If one needs to mull over the President’s impact, the jewels are abundant just by virtue of President Obama’s unprecedented achievements.