Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Age of Obama

May 7, 2009

Veteran journalist Gwen Ifill came to my attention when she was selected to moderate the debate between Vice Presidential Candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Ms. Ifill is moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and senior correspondent of PBS's the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She's served as chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News. She's been a reporter for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Boston Herald American.

I heard the allegations and innuendos about her possible bias based on her upcoming book which would touch upon "Barack Obama's impact on the political landscape." I vowed to read it. Little did I know I'd be introduced to a host of young African American politicians" per Ifill, who are "forgoing a bold new path to political powers". Several months later, I read the publication and was saddened by the fact that I knew little of many contemporary politicians who form the foundation for the political future. Once again, to my chagrin, I was asleep at the wheel.

A product of political action of the Sixties and Seventies, I was familiar with the "new" Black Mayors: Richard Hatcher, Gary, IN; Kenneth Gibson, Newark, NJ: Carl Stokes, Cleveland, OH and Coleman Young, Detroit, MI. I kept track of African American progress in politics and actively participated in helping make some of our political dreams a reality. I remember the election of Senator Carol Mosely Braun of IL and Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Every newly elected African-American office holder was a milestone, a cause for celebration. Somewhere along the way, I lost track, allowing myself to get bogged down in other interest. My face is red with shame.

In "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama", Gwen Ifill introduced me to some of the current African American Mayors: Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, PA; Michael Coleman, Columbus, OH;Adrian Fenly, Washington, D. C.; and Byron Brown, Buffalo, NY. I began to wonder how could I eat up all the news every night, following local and national news and not come across these important political figures. How could I not even hear their names? I won't mention the pundits, commentators, reporters, bloggers, etc. who fill the airways every night with thoguhts, opinions, comments, information, advice, blah, blah, blah ad nauseum. Why is it that I never hear from the likes of the aforementioned African-American elected officials? What about Artur Davis, Alabama Congressman and Eddie Glaude, Jr., a dedicated teacher at Princeton University?

I intend to get to know the New Breed more throughly and I'll share some of what I find out with you. I expect it'll be a fun journey. My first stop was the You Tube video as Michael Nutter raps at his inaugural ball a year ago. He takes the stage and breaks it down old school. I challenge you to investigate and share what you learn with others.

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