Thursday 19 January 2017
Celebrating the Obamas
Today, January 19 2017 is the final day that Barack Hussein Obama and his wife, Michelle Lavaughn Obama will occupy The White House as President and First Lady of the United States of America. I know there hasn't been a shortage of praise and accolades but I just wanted to add my voice to that of many others in celebrating them.
There is a growing sentiment that the impact and success of the Obamas will not be fully appreciated until long after they have left office and I fully agree with that. The long list of achievements speak for themselves but more than that, Barack and Michelle have inspired many along the way with story, their ambition and their dedication to one another.
We have all seen the pictures of their humble beginnings and heard stories about their struggles in the early days. Many of us have watched interviews and listened to speeches in awe and admiration of their effortless charm. We have followed them like they were extended family members that we hoped and prayed did well, and they have. It is not everyday that you have someone in high office that comes in on a wave of excitement and expectation, and leaves with commendable and honorable record.
I'm not going to pretend like the Obamas had a perfect time or that I agree with every move they made because I don't. I didn't expect to and anyway, this post is not about that.
A few years before Obama was elected, I distinctly remember having a conversation with friends about the possibility of seeing a black president of the United States in our lifetime. Our conclusion at the time was that it wouldn't happen. America was too racist and wasn't ready to elect a black man as president, we said. While racism in America is still alive and well, it gives me great joy to be able to say that not only did Barack Obama get elected as president (twice), he did so despite the racism.
It also gives me great pleasure to be able to say that the first black woman to occupy the role of First Lady was Michelle Obama - with degrees from Princeton and Harvard, and all the grace you could hope for. A formidable woman in her own right and a force to be reckoned with by any standard.
The Obamas had their fair share of nonsense to deal with as well. Between the caricatures (Obama's baby mama) and the blatant insults (the birther campaign), they made a habit of conducting themselves with great dignity - exemplified by the 'when they go low, we go high' motto. Barack didn't perform to poorly with his White House Correspondents' Dinner comedy attempts either.
By the end of the day on the 20th, the Obamas' tenure will be history and a new chapter will begin. Time will tell how that chapter unfolds and, to be honest, I really don't want to think about that now. I am just happy that they did it their way. They came, they saw and they have conquered. I just hope history is indeed as favorable to them as I have been.
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