During the observance of Black History Month, African Diasporal Month or African History Month, it is rather appropriate to apply some perspectives on the recent re-election of United States President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama is described as the first black president of the United States, but this periodical, with its focus on accuracy, will also view him as an African-European-American president.

The BBC in London and other reliable sources have cited Africa as the origin or cradle of civilization. Unfortunately, Africans were enslaved mostly by Western countries, but history is almost silent on the fact that their labour built the economic foundations of such countries as France, England, Holland, Denmark and the US. It is interesting to note that the US had its inception in 1776, about the same year that the enslaved Africans on Nottingham Estate were granted freedom. Therefore, Long Look is the first freehold settlement of Africans in the New World and should be developed as a heritage site. Formal education was introduced here by Methodist missionaries in 1789, and emancipation was granted throughout the British Caribbean in 1834.     

Civil Rights Movement

The philosophy and visions of the great Marcus Garvey proved that he lived 100 years or more before his time. He inspired many, especially those of the African Diaspora. Following World War II, as Sir Winston Churchill stated, the US became the leader of the free or Western world. By all accounts, African-Americans, being a minority in the US, were denied many basic human rights, especially in the southern US, where initially their rights tended not to be enforced by the federal government. Therefore, the stage was set for Rosa Parks to light the flame of the full-blown Civil Rights Movement, which was led by several African-Americans, including that great orator, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was unfortunately assassinated. The Black Power Movement and the Civil Rights Movement in the US also awakened consciousness in the African Diaspora, especially the African Caribbean branch.

Part of Dr. King’s dream was being realised shortly after his assassination in the 1960s. The African-Americans gradually gained some of the civil rights that were denied them. Some were elected to Congress, some served as mayors, and many attended colleges and universities, but there was still some progress needed in certain aspects. Suppressed histories that pertained to African-Americans and Africans in general were revealed, such as the fact that African-Americans fought in every major conflict of the US. The exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen proved that African-Americans and other Africans possess the ability to excel not only in sports but in education and other fields. This generally was the national and international scene when Mr. Obama was sworn in as the first black, or African-European, president in 2009.

Mr. Obama battled the obstructionist policies of most Republicans, which also obstructed the progress of the US. Mr. Obama, however, ranks as one of the smartest presidents of the US, and his network strategy has outwitted the Republicans. Thank God the majority of Americans discerned political realities and re-elected him in 2012. The majority of Americans and people worldwide also feel that African-Americans contribute to the greatness of America in peace and in war, and that one of them deserves to be president.

It is of great historical significance that Mr. Obama’s second inauguration took place on Jan. 22, the federal holiday in honour of Dr. King. The Civil Rights Movement Dr. King led made possible Mr. Obama’s election and re-election.

The president repeated the oath of office after the attorney general, supported by his wife and their daughters while thousands cheered in the National Mall and millions watched around the world. Attempts were made to connect and consolidate history in this mega event: Mr. Obama took the oath on a Bible that belonged to Abraham Lincoln, who is admired greatly by the president and who some historians claimed to be of African descent because of his sympathy with former enslaved African-Americans. Mr. Obama also used a Bible that belonged to Dr. King.

VI link

It is also of great historical significance that the Virgin Islands has a direct relation to the inaugurations: The ceremonies took place on the steps of the Capitol Building, which was designed by Dr. William Thornton, who was born in the VI. The remains of his great house are located at Pleasant Valley in Sea Cows Bay. This home should be restored to its original appearance. This would add much to the cultural heritage of the VI, and have national, regional and international appeal.  

Ultimately, Mr. Obama’s re-election gives him the unique opportunity to build on his legacy. This writer joins the millions in the US and around the world in wishing him success.

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