The picture you see is Senator Obama in Wisconsin at a presidential rally in 2008. He’s holding an original copy of my first edition of Mr. Jefferson’s Piano and Other Central Harlem Stories. My publisher at the time was so excited to meet him. She decided to show him my book. Rumor has it that he loved to read, but I don’t know if the Senator kept the copy or even read it if he did. My publishers wanted to advertise the picture on their site and claim he loved the book. I disagreed. I said I thought it crossed the boundary into false advertising. I worried about being sued and so I checked their site every day for the next two weeks. My publishers tried every which way but loose to convince me. They finally gave up on the idea of posting the picture.
Looking at the picture from eight years earlier, I think how much President Obama has changed. He looks so much younger in the picture. He has less gray hair and very little worry wrinkles across his forehead. Looking at him now, I guess eight years of being the father, the big daddy of our mixed up mess of a country puts plenty of wear and tear on any man. But being the first African American president of the United States is a task of monumental proportions. There is no precedent or any handbook telling him what to do or how to do it. There are no footsteps to follow. He can’t Google it and find a video telling him how to be a US president, let alone its first Black one. It’s kind of like walking a tightrope stretched between the newly rebuilt Twin Towers without a net. Everybody on the ground is watching and waiting for the tiniest misstep that might cost everything.
For the first six years or so, President Obama disappointed me greatly. I wanted him to kick Wall Street’s expensive butt. I wanted him not to make any deals with the banksters. During the bailouts, I wanted him to hold Wall Street’s feet to the fire. I wanted strings attached to the bailout. I wanted banks too big to fail to be busted up. I wanted somebody besides us taxpayers to pay for the damage Wall Street did to Main Street America’s dreams of homeownership. I wanted somebody to go to jail for the criminal acts Wall Street committed. I wanted him to impose a transaction tax for Wall Street. I wanted him to get us out of all the wars in the Middle
East. I wanted him to start a real conversation about race and white privilege in America. I’d hoped he’d create a teachable moment when Professor Louis Gates was arrested in his own home by a white police officer who didn’t recognize him, then wouldn’t trust his word or his ID.
I’d hoped he’d push through legislation to protect what was left of Affirmative Action, voter’s rights and the environment, consumer rights and other issues. I wanted him to do something more than just talk, weep, or sing about gun violence in America. Most of all, I wanted him to get all of the appointments filled that he needed for the judicial system and beyond.
I’ll miss the first Black president that Barrack Obama became during the final eighteen months of his term. When he said Trayvon Martin could have been his son, I knew something different was going on. When he sent Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson Missouri to investigate Mike Brown’s death and the police force that killed him, I knew. I just knew. When he gave Reverend Pinckney’s eulogy, then sang “Amazing Grace,” it confirmed President Obama was the hope and change man I voted for all the way back in 2008. It’s too bad President Obama can’t run for a third term. I’d certainly vote for him despite the all games being played in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Farewell, President Barrack Hussein Obama. I will miss you a great deal. You and your lovely family provided outstanding examples of what the first Black Family can be and is.
Thank you for being you