The Other Obama Legacy

The Other Obama Legacy

The New York Times

Charles M. Blow

On Tuesday, I spoke to a room full of beaming high school and middle school boys — about 150, a vast majority of whom were black — at the St. Petersburg College Allstate Center in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The talk was sponsored by the Cross and Anvil Human Services Center as part of the heritage lecture series that seeks to present historical, political and educational conversations that honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The group targets “at-risk” boys in the community.

I didn’t sugarcoat things for these boys. I gave them the unvarnished truth, the same way I would for my own boys. For me, it is very important to help children place themselves historically, even when that history is painful, because within that truth they can anchor themselves and from it they can aim themselves.

When my speech was over, we had a question and answer period, and President Obama came up…

…I thought of some of the amazing pictures that the White House has released of the president meeting with black folks in the Oval Office, like 5-year-old Jacob Philadelphia touching the president’s hair because, as he put it, “I want to know if my hair is just like yours.” I thought of all the boys being reached by the president’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program.

These things register in a way that should never be underestimated. As a child, I couldn’t name many politicians, but I knew that P.B.S. Pinchback had been the first and only black governor of Louisiana, my home state; that Thurgood Marshall was a sitting Supreme Court Justice; and that Ed Bradley was one of the most respected journalists on television.

Obama is the first black president — and may well be the last, who knows — and that alone has a historical weight and impact on this generation that will play out for generations to come…

Read the entire article here.

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