Reflections on President Obama’s last days in office

Timuel Black
Timuel Black

President Barack Obama has proven to African Americans, other minorities, males, females and other groups and the world that in America we can do the impossible. Who would have thought 20 years ago or less than that, that an African American would be the president of the United States of America?

Obama was prepared to be the President as others had been. The opportunity was there, and his personality created a base of support and appreciation that made it possible for him to become the first African-American President in the history of the United States.

I think a part of Obama’s legacy is that it will encourage younger people of all races, gender and ethnic groups that the impossible can be possible, and that one has to be prepared when the door has been opened for the opportunity.

His healthcare plan, the Affordable Care Act also know as ObamaCare, is also a part of that legacy, Medicaid and the expansion of Medicare so that it now gives almost every American an opportunity to have healthcare, which was not possible before.

I think his foreign policy and relationships, though contradictory, have helped to bring more of our allies closer together with part of the leadership of the United States of America.

I think his attitude on climate change and his attempts to bring more support have been the kinds of things that are universal and will continue to be appreciated by not just Americans but by people in other parts of the world.

In the Middle East, bringing people together against ISIS has been helpful to our allies in that part of the world. I think it has brought confidence to those nations and that they now have support outside of their own territories.

The Obamas in the White House has been tremendous. He has not been as perfect for many younger African Americans as they thought he ought to be but what they may not realize is that he had to make compromises. Of course it’s easy to understand that if Obama were not a black man some of that legislation would have probably gone through fairly easy.

Since he and his wife Michelle spent a great deal of their developing lives in Hyde Park, I think it has been an inspiration as well as an example of how Hyde Park has made a difference in the lives of many politicians including the late Harold Washington, Carol Moseley Braun, and others.

Since World War II Hyde Park has been a very liberal and inclusive community along racial and ethnic lines. Many of these people who supported and became allies of Barack Obama such as David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett were Hyde Parkers and have been close to him before he became President and since he became President.

Hyde Parkers should feel a sense of pride and should be prideful that Obama chose the Hyde Park/Jackson Park area for his Presidential library where his political life began.

For me having lived as long as I have lived and seen the emergence of very conservative forces in Europe, Germany, and Italy and in other places I have a sense of comparison as President-Elect Donald Trump takes office.

He said he will “Make America Great Again.” The old, “great”America that he is talking about does not include an opportunity for all Americans and peace and justice in our relationships with our foreign allies.

We have lost a good deal of the progress, which Barack Obama has, made possible by continuing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement.

The fears that young people have about Trump’s plans for immigration reform, bringing back stop-and frisk policing, repealing the Affordable Care Act and some of his other agenda items are justified. I am very proud of young people for having those feelings because I believe that young people with the experiences of their older relatives and friends will not allow Trump another opportunity to destroy this country.

I know that we will overcome Trump’s ideas of a “great” America because I have inspiration that was given to me by the success by Barack and Michelle Obama.

-Timuel Black