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

    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.


    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her bylines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.