Monday, January 19, 2009

Top 5: Predecessors to the Obama Presidency

Tomorrow we inaugurate our first black president. Many people helped prepare the way for this event. It would be difficult to imagine this historic event without these “John the Baptist’s” of the Obama presidency. Here are my Top 5.
  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. As the most important leader of the Civil Rights Movement, he helped bring an end to institutionalized racism and disenfranchisement of blacks.
  2. Jesse Jackson. His “Rainbow Coalition” attempted to bring all racial minorities together in his attempts to win the presidency. Even though he was unsuccessful at securing the presidency, good ideas often must be tried and failed before they are successful. Since Obama did not win a majority of whites, it was indeed a rainbow coalition that put him over the top.
  3. Howard Dean. Dean was an important predecessor in two different ways. First, his 2004 race for the presidency demonstrated the power of the Internet to mobilize voters. Obama built upon Dean’s accomplishments and saw new heights in the use of the Internet to build a grassroots organization. Second, as chair of the DNC, Dean extended the reach of the Democratic Party with his 50-State Strategy. By strengthening party organization in places where Democrats have not been competitive, Dean helped Obama win some formerly Red states, such as Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana.
  4. David Palmer. Dennis Haysbert played this character on the 24 television series. We should not diminish this character’s importance just because he is fictional. Art of many forms, including TV shows, help us imagine possibilities for the future and overcome our prejudices. This was not the only depiction of a black president in film. Here you will find a complete list.
  5. Hillary Clinton. Last Spring, I thought that Clinton was diminishing Obama’s chances by staying in the race until the end. With the benefit of hindsight, I am now of a different opinion. By staying in the race, Clinton forced Obama into building grassroots organizations in all 50 states. This ultimately helped Obama win the general election.
Who would you add to the list?


Mel said...

Excellent List...I would also say Bill Cosby

Mrs.Naz@BecomingMe said...

Very interesting thoughts. I never thought of the fictional president palmer, but it does make sense.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Easy... Rosa Parks.