JANUARY 22, 2016
By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
NNPA News Wire Columnist
When you are considered by millions of people across the nation and throughout the world community to be the “Leader of the Free World,” that is an awesome and serious international responsibility. Do you remember when President Obama was first elected eight years ago? There were numerous pundits who questioned whether or not the first African American to be President of the United States of America had the fortitude and intellectual capacity to provide leadership not only across the country, but also on the worldwide geopolitical stage.
This month as President Obama prepares to enter his last year as president, it is important to state for the record that I believe history will one day stipulate that Barack H. Obama was in fact the most successful President of the U.S. That is a fact in terms of Obama’s leading the restoration of the nation’s economy, reducing the deficit, increasing employment, providing health care for the first time to millions of people, innovating the energy sector, leading the world toward environmental and climate protection, and challenging racism by irreversibly shattering the myth of white supremacy.
There are some, however, who would ask what about the escalating problems of terrorism and the devastating wars that still rage particularly in the Middle East? Those are fair questions. But we should not forget about the catastrophic aftermath of the ill-advised and counterproductive war that President George W. Bush initiated by unjustly invading and occupying Iraq. The international dangers and threats of terrorism increase exponentially as a direct result of the Bush-Chaney regime.
The vast majority of all Americans are proud of the leadership and success of President Obama even in the face of seven straight years of partisan obstructionism and political division in Washington, DC. In particular, most African Americans applaud the outstanding leadership of President Obama. It is also true that there are many in the African American community who feel that President Obama should be doing more to help improve the overall quality of life of Black America unapologetically.
I, however, take a broader view. Yes, all of the various federal government departments and agencies directly under the supervision of the Obama Administration should commit the next 12 months to significantly increase the allocation of resources to benefit and empower African Americans, Latino Americans and others who have been historically denied equity and access to assistance from the federal government.
For example more funding for all our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and redirecting millions of U.S. government advertising dollars back to African American-owned newspapers, media companies and other businesses to make up for past non-equitable allocations of funds should now be a top priority. Ending the disproportionate mass incarceration African Americans and others needs to be accelerated.
Of course confronting poverty in our communities with economic development and enhancing the education of our children continues to be a priority. Black Lives Matter and we must continue to protest police brutality and the failure of the justice system to be fair and just.
Sometimes, when we only see the glass of life and society as being half empty rather than being half full, our perspectives and aspirations will be constrained by the negatives and contradictions of life. The resilience and steady progress of Black America are not ultimately in the hands of our distractors or oppressors. They are in our own hands. We are blessed, not cursed, with the resilience of African people.
Our ancestors refused to permit oppression to determine their future. We, therefore, will not permit today’s oppression to determine the sustainability of our future. The reason why I focused this piece first and foremost on the essence of the contemporary leadership of President Barack Obama is because if we do not lift him up, nobody else will. If we do not lift ourselves up, no one else will do it for us.
In case you did not see the recent press conference that President Obama held in Paris, France during the International Summit on Climate Change in the wake of the tragic terrorist attack in that city, I encourage you to go online and view it in its entirety. Why? Because at that critical moment in Paris in front of other world leaders, President Obama did not waiver. He rose to the occasion with poise, stamina, intellect, knowledge and tremendous strength of character, vision and integrity.
In short, the global genius that President Obama boldly displayed in Paris gave millions of people throughout the world encouragement and a reaffirmation to continue to work to make the world a better place today and for future generations. Tough and hard questions were asked at the press conference. President Obama gave tough and clear answers to all of the questions in such a manner that it should have made all of us proud and determined to keep pressing forward for freedom, justice and equality for all.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at email@example.com and for lectures and other professional consultations at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc.
(reprinted with permission)