We are now approaching the last months of the Obama era. He will be remembered as a great, but flawed, president, and many of those flaws have to do with how he has addressed race — or avoided doing so.
In his first two years in office, President Obama performed herculean deeds in rescuing the banks, restoring the economy, bailing out the automobile industry and getting his signature health care legislation passed. It was an astonishing record of success despite bitter right-wing resistance to his presidency and the alarming racist reaction to a black man being in charge.
I have twice worked hard to help get this president elected. I have known Barack Obama since the early 1990s, and for a time we belonged to the same church in Chicago. Watching him as president, I greatly admired how this highly intelligent and supremely confident figure managed the affairs of state with verve and swagger. No matter how much I disagreed with him about policy or politics I was deeply moved by his historic achievement. Still, I am frustrated. Because the president has hit some targets in the path to racial progress, but missed a great many as well. And that is not a sentiment I or other fellow black scholars, preachers and activists are supposed to express.