A Pre-Teen In The Obama Era
Updated: Feb 13
It was my last year in middle school, and I was preparing for a mock political debate for the last semester of my government course. The purpose of the mock debate was to inform students on the process of political debates between opposing presidential nominees through roleplay. Since my government class was after lunch, I had to anxiously wait to argue my side as the “Democratic nominee.” I was nervous because I was unsure of what my teacher would ask as the “moderator.”
During lunch I pondered how I would respond like a Democratic nominee, and I was hyper-focused until a student in a suit and tie caught my eye. This biracial student was in a crisp black two piece suit with a blue tie, surrounded by different students dressed in matching suits and dark shades. Once the student with the blue tie spoke it became obvious of why he was dressed so formal and maneuvered through the lunch crowd as if he was genuinely campaigning for office while being surrounded by "secret servicemen."
This student intentionally was mirroring the 2008 Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Although he was imitating Obama partially for comedic effect during the mock debate, his Obama impression was an Aha! moment for me. As a 12 year old going on 13, I quickly became aware of the significance of the election that year while sitting at that lunch table. For the first time in American history, there was an African American man who was nominated for president. Although Obama is of mixed heritage, due to America’s “one drop rule” many of us consider him a black man.
For many African Americans, Obama was a symbol of hope and progression. To me, Obama was the start of a new chapter in Black History.
I was too young to fully understand his political agenda, but I still took great pride in just knowing that a black man could possibly be in charge of a superpower. Even if he wouldn’t have won, I would've just been content knowing that a black man was nominated for president. After my class’ mock debate, I became much more intrigued with the 2008 United States Presidential Election. Me and my family actively read and collected articles about the 2008 election from the Press Telegram and Los Angeles Times newspaper.
In government class I actively participated, offering my opinion on why I felt Obama should be our nation's president. Each night I watched CNN so I could learn more about Obama, and although I was two young to vote I still wanted to find other ways to be involved with the making of new black history. When he won the 2008 election I was speechless. It was official. A black man who had a Kenyan father, was elected president of the United States of America. That surreal moment was the beginning of a historical presidency. Standing beside the first black president was also the USA's first black First Lady, Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama served as an inspiration to young women everywhere, and her union with Barack Obama sparked the #blacklove movement of today.
As I reflect back to the most transformative election in our nation's history, I realize that every other liberative moment in black history was the groundwork for Obama's victory. There would be no Obama presidency if we didn’t have the civil rights Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and died for. Thurgood Marshall paved the way for future lawyers of color, proving that African Americans were just as comparable as their white counterparts in the field of law, opening doors for future black lawyers like Barack and Michelle Obama.
Those who are members of the African Diaspora have such a rich history, especially within the United States of America. African American unity has broken barriers, restructured society, and enabled advancement for descending generations.
Barack Obama’s inauguration reminded African Americans that the lives lost during the fight for freedom were not in vain.Even though certain members in society have tried to diminish, erase, and rewrite black history, one thing that can never be erased is Barack Obama becoming the United States president TWICE! That will forever be engraved into American history, and BLACK HISTORY.
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Written by Angelica Cheyenne