Obama’s Legacy: The Hope I Needed
By: Darianne Hudson
It was a late Tuesday night when Obama was announced President-elect for the first time. I was only in 8th grade, and I remember being on pins and needles in my bed with the TV tuned to CNN. It was way past by bedtime, but I refused to sleep until I knew the outcome. As soon as Obama’s name was announced, I sighed with joy and teary eyes, turned off my TV, and I slept with ease. America finally felt like a home for my people.
The next day at school was hella lit. I went to a middle school with a large enrollment of black students who were also from the inner city. Despite having very little, we all felt like a million bucks that day. I remember walking through the hallways with so much confidence. (Picture DJ Khaled walking through his “garden” on Snapchat…yep, that’s how I felt). It was surreal.
It never occurred to me how my white peers may have felt, or if I should even stop to ask. All that mattered to me and everyone I knew – my parents, family, close friends, bus driver, neighbors – was that a black man (biracial) was finally in the White House. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about government, and truly had no interest in politics at the time…I was only in 8th grade. I just knew that in the eyes of black America Obama had practically walked on the moon.
I was in the 12th grade and home-schooled during Obama’s re-election campaign. (It’s not as lame as it sounds, I promise!) Being home-schooled, I finished school online and spent most of my days glued to CNN and Fox. I followed the 2012 election cycle like a hawk. It was then that I knew I loved politics because I realized that Obama’s first win wasn’t just a fluke. If Obama could be re-elected a second time, then that meant that there was a place for a black girl like me in politics.
During his presidency, America witnessed the capture of Osama Bin Laden, a turn in the economy, health care become affordable, legalization of same-sex marriage, and other successes. As an American citizen, Obama accomplished great feats while in office. But when facing the backdrop of racial tensions, police brutality, and the struggle for racial equality, there were instances when I feel Obama didn’t adequately represent black America.
However, what stood out to me most were the moments when I saw his humanity: Obama’s impromptu Amazing Grace solo at the Charleston church shooting service; Obama allowing the little black boy to touch his hair; Obama genuinely showing his adoration for Michelle at his farewell address. These are the moments, though not overtly political, that I will never forget. I will never forget how he and his family humanized black people for all of America…among one of the most boldly political acts of our century.
Obama certainly didn’t do everything I agreed with. However, the Obama’s gave me a hope I didn’t know I needed.
Darianne Hudson is the owner of Politics Unplugged, read more from her on her website.