There was a great period of Black political accomplishment immediately following Slavery. Names like P.B.S. Pinchback and James Lewis were elected to the U.S. Senate to represent Louisiana. In the 1860’s, Blacks represented North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia in state houses and the federal Legislatures. They sat on state courts and represented their states.
Black leaders like Frederick Douglass, born in 1817, were leaders of this period. It is noted that sometimes Blacks were elected but not seated and, therefore, could not serve. Thaddeus Stevens a white politician devised a plan to give every free Black man forty acres of land. This radical plan ﬁzzled and died.
100 years later, in the 1960’s, Dr. Martin Luther King led a Civil Rights Movement that resulted in numerous Blacks being elected to statehouses in nearly every state in the Union. More than the elections that resulted in enough Blacks to create a Congressional Black Caucus, his movement resulted in Civil Rights for African Americans. The 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Laws allowed the right to vote and equal rights to public accommodations, among other things.
November 4, 2008 Barack Obama shocked the world as he was elected to become the 44th President of the United States. With wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, he served two terms. At the end of his term, the third Reconstruction, like the previous ones began. The opposition political leaders are working hard to erase the fact that he was here. The fact is that he was here, and we are still here, ﬁghting for freedom, justice, and equality. That is our legacy. That is our gift to the world.
In a book entitled, “Go Tell Michelle“, a book of letters of pride to Michelle Obama from African American Women, compiled by Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram, there is one letter that stands out for me. That letter tells about how one family got over because Aunt Lillie heard that hard times had hit and she boarded the Greyhound Bus with a suitcases ﬁlled with clothes, fruit from yard, and well wrapped hog pieces to feed the family. The letter ends by saying that when the writer found out that Michelle’s mother was coming to stay in the White house, she was ecstatic to know the Obama girls would have a second mother. She writes, “Even though your Mother didn’t bring a bushel of apples and pears, she would be toting bushels of love.”
The Obama years in the White House are over but the inspiration, imagery and memory lingers on. Now we can inspire our young with the stories of our First Black President as we encourage them to become the second.
The Congressional Black Caucus has gotten much larger, the judiciary is totally integrated, the business world has Black millionaire and billionaire titans. The chairs at the White House are waiting for the continuation of this Reconstruction.