In the early hours of the morning UK time, I watched Barack Obama speak as President of the United States for the last time at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, in the hope of getting Hillary Clinton into the White House next year. Just a few days ago, I watched as First Lady Michelle Obama gave an amazing speech.
I’ve come to realise that the world will miss the Obamas when they leave public office, and many agree.
For me and like so many other black Britons, I often look across the atlantic for my inspiration and role models, Barack and Michelle being just two of these. It’s not that Britain hasn’t got any successful people of colour, but that in the United States you can achieve so much more even if you’re non-white.
Since President Obama stood on the same stage eight years ago as he did some hours ago, I have witnessed the Obamas ooze positive images of black family life. Not only as America’s first family for all the people, but as the highest profile black family on the planet. The thousands of images beamed around the world of them are of a very solid and stable unit, in contrast to the many negative and stereotypical images of the broken, and fatherless, black families we’re used to seeing. Barack is a black husband and father, surrounded by three, now, beautiful black women.
Michelle has such elegance and grace, that many wonder why she isn’t running for President.
Despite the racism that existed – and still exists, prior to his election, and the Obamas have been called some awful names, Barack has managed to rise to the top of his profession against all the odds, to become the leader of the world’s foremost democracy. He is a history-making President, as a black man. By becoming the US commander-in-chief, Obama has sent a powerful message to other black boys and girls around the world that they too, with such audacity, can achieve it all.
Yes they can.
Although it is arguable whether Obama has been an effective President, at home and abroad, with some calling him a pacifist, it cannot be said that he hasn’t stayed grounded and kept his cool. Just listening to him earlier, reminded me of all that is good about the man. He is a natural orator. A burger bar eating President, adored by a youthful generation. A black man who has shown different dimensions to his personality, in a very public and symbolic way. Under Obama’s leadership, there has not been a single White House scandal in eight years. How many other leaders can say that?
Many can list all the things Obama hasn’t done for them, but I’m all for what he has done. He never promised anything beyond the limits of his office, and never set himself up as a Saint. He wasn’t meant to be the messiah. He offered change and hope, not saviour. These, he has delivered on.
Barack has indeed been one of the finest Presidents America has had. A man of character. Michelle has been an inspirational First Lady. About her husband she said, “Being president has not changed who he is, it has revealed who he is”. About his wife, Barack has called her “incredible”, and that America “has been blessed to have her”. The world will miss the Obamas, for real.