Black History Month; Obama and His Place in History

The theme for this month’s set of blogs is Black History. Black History Month (BHM), also known as African History Month (AHM), was created to promote and bring attention to black history and culture around the world. Black History month is in the month of October in the UK whilst it is in February in the US. BHM was originally founded in 1926 when Carter G Woodson, editor for thirty years of the Journal of Negro History, established African Caribbean celebrations in America. Whilst in the UK Black History Month was founded in 1987 alongside Diane Abbot’s election into Parliament as the first black female member.

In this week’s post I will be looking at Presidents Barack Obama presidency and inauguration and its place in black history. I will now give a brief overview of Barack Obama’s life. Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 and was son to a Kenyan father and mother from Kansas. Obama went on to attend law school, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama became politically important when he was elected into the Senate in 2004 and passed various reforms aimed on healthcare and ethnic reform. Obama secured the Democrats vote in August 2008 and became the first African-American President in November 4, 2008, and was sworn in on January 20, 2009.

In this section I will have a look at the impact of Obama election on both America and the World. Firstly Obama presidency can be seen in some ways as a fulfillment of the American Dream. This is because it marks a decisive moment in the grand story of the black freedom struggle in America. In some aspects it means a greater sense of equality, as now there is an African-American is in charge of the country rather than a white man. This fact also point towards a shift in perception towards minority community and also re-asses what it means to be American. Johnny Bernard Hill comments in his book The First Black President that ‘What the election does tell us is that the way we think about race in America has forever changed.’ I find that this statement is true as it highlights the impact that Obama’s election has had on the American people and around the question of race and equality. For me personally, despite not really understanding American politics (or any politics for that matter), Obama’s victory showed to me that anything could be changed and that the future was best faced together rather than alone.

I would finally like to discuss a part of Presidents Obama’s speech to the Democratic Convention in 2008;

“America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise – that American promise – and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.”

Upon reading part of Obama’s speech we can get a sense of change and promise for a united future. We get an idea that it’s not just Obama campaign, but an American campaign to tackle the problems of the future together whatever race or background that you are from. To finish I believe that Obama election and presidency is a major historical landmark not just for black history, but for world history. Obama’s story proves that anything can be achieved if you believe in it. I hope that you have enjoyed reading my post and that Barack Obama amazing achievements as president have inspired you to believe that anything is possible.


Johnny Bernard Hill The First Black President (New York, 2009)

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