On November 4th 2008 a little known Senator named Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected President of the United States. Obama flew under the radar early in his political career with his work as a community organizer until the 2004 Democratic National Convention where his riveting speech thrust him into the national spotlight.
Three years later when Obama stood in front of a throng of people on a blistery day in Chicago and announced his intention to run for president, the stage was set for one of the most historic campaigns ever. His battle for the Democratic nomination with former first lady Hillary Clinton captivated the country.
Obama’s candidacy re-energized a demographic of young people disillusioned with the voting process (myself included) that allegedly stole the election from Al Gore in 2000. Celebrities like P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey lent their names and support to the young Senator. Unfortunately, his opponent Arizona senator John McCain tried to capture the women voters Clinton commanded by choosing Alaska native Sarah Palin as his running mate. The move backfired in lieu of Palin’s glaring lack of historical knowledge and lack of compassion for turkeys. Obama won the election handily.
As Barack Obama stood on stage at Grant Park in Chicago, newly minted as the President-elect, the enormity of the moment brought many who endured the violence and ignorance of racism and segregation to tears. It was an emotional moment for young people who never thought they would live to see the day that a Black man would be voted to the highest office in the country. The “dream” that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke so eloquently about had come to fruition.
President Obama kicked off his 2012 reelection campaign with this popular speech at The Apollo theater where he sang a few notes of Al Green’s classic, “Let’s Stay Together.”