News / USA

Obama's Presidency a Living Example for African Americans

A majority of African-Americans also say that Mr. Obama's presidential win has improved race relations in America.

Multimedia

Audio
  • http://www.voanews.com/MediaAssets2/english/dalet/babb0obama-african-americans-voa563264-15jan10-sn.mp3

TEXT SIZE - +
Carla Babb

A new survey shows that African-Americans' assessment of progress and race relations in America has improved more dramatically than at any time in the last quarter century.  And, President Barack Obama's move into the White House appears to be the spark that ignited this rise in optimism and hope. 

African-American Nicole Cunningham says growing up in the southern state of Georgia was difficult.

It was a time of racial tension.  The white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan, often terrorized black families,  sometimes beating and murdering them. But, Nicole says seeing the inauguration of the first black president has shown her that times have changed.
 
"When I was in the fifth grade having the KKK [Ku Klux Klan] march on my school, and wanting to have all the black kids brought outside, I was thinking about all of that when I was looking up there. So we have definitely come a long way," she said.
 
Nicole and her husband, Vurtis, took their two young children to the inauguration to witness the historic event. Their son Tarik says he is proud of Mr. Obama's victory.

"And I know some people they didn't like the idea of having an African-American president and he persevered through all that," he said.
 
"It was a very emotional day," said Nicole. "You know, I can look up there and see someone who looks like me."

A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows that nearly twice as many African-Americans now than in 2007 say the situation of black people in the United States has improved over the last five years. This jump in optimism is the highest seen since 1984.  A majority of African-Americans also say that Mr. Obama's presidential win has improved race relations in America. 

But the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Chairman Julian Bond says it was one moment in a long chain of events.

"It's arguable you could say, that we should have been able to do this years and years and years ago," said Bond. "But perhaps it had to wait for the moment, for the man, for the moment-it did have to wait for the man and the moment and had to wait for an awful lot of work that had to be done leading up to this moment."

The inauguration of Barack Obama at the steps of the Capitol was more than just a beginning to a new presidency.  For the Cunninghams and many African-Americans, Mr. Obama was a living example of the endless possibilities.

 "So to grow up, and to tell my kids that they can be anything they want to be in the world, there's no barriers anymore, you can go as far as you want to go, and to have this culminate before us, and we're there to see it,  just unreal, surreal," said Vurtis.
 
For the next generation of Cunninghams, like their 11-year-old daughter Gwen, the realization of the first black president is already taking effect.
 
"It lets me know that I can run for president, because I am an African American and, and I can become the first female president," said Gwen.
 
The Cunninghams' are still smiling over President Obama's successful jump over the race barrier.  But they say the economy and the ongoing wars are tough problems he needs to tackle.
 
"There's still life going on, but we are still very excited," said  And we wish the president well," said Cunninghams. "He definitely has his work cut out for him.  He definitely does."

Mr. Obama is trying a more hands-on approach to help address these problems and will present his plans later this month in his State of the Union address.

You May Like

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid