We are unified in segregation just as, one hundred years ago we were unified in slavery; is this the unity we want? The unity of oppression? The unity of discrimination? The unity of poverty and ignorance and want



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“We are unified in segregation just as, one hundred years ago we were unified in slavery; is this the unity we want? The unity of oppression? The unity of discrimination? The unity of poverty and ignorance and want? It is not – it can not – it will not be so!” This quote was spoken 50 years ago and remains a relevant description of black unity. Martin Luther King, Jr. Said this quote in the introduction to his speech “Demonstrating Our Unity”, spoken at a rally in Hurt Park, Atlanta, Ga. The speech encouraged resistance to and educated   blacks about Atlanta’s fallacies dealing with public education, health care, land ownership and economic opportunity. Throughout the speech he stressed how important unity is when changing these problems as well as introduced the thought that blacks should no more be unified by tragedy.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. stressed to attendants that physical unity, such as rallying or protesting with out purpose is empty and unity with a purpose without determination is “impotent”. It has long been argued that unification is instrumental in African American mobility, and Dr. King agreed.   

The scope of the evaluation of Barack Obama’s presidency will be his ability or lack there of to unify African American’s based on his actions while in office. The unity or lack there of will be based on the outcomes of togetherness.

Barack Obama’s election to the Presidency of the United States was a unifying moment for Black Americans and people of color across the globe. 1Unlike slavery and segregation, it was a positive cause and effect of black unity. When he was initially elected blacks were united in many ways. In that moment, we were unified in what this meant for us and our ancestors specifically, in cracking the glass ceiling, in redefining what is possible not only today, but for generations to come, in telling our youth that they can be whatever they desire and truly meaning it, and unity in the pride of having participated in an achievement of this magnitude. At this time, it’s easy to assume that this would have pleased Martin Luther King, Jr., for once we were unified because of positive change. 

But as magical as that feeling was, over time, the magic wore off and Blacks continued to live life unchanged and unaffected by the historical times American’s are living in, only noticing the President’s hue when pop culture icons such as Beyoncé come to the White House. 

When it researching, statistics were interpreted carefully, taking into account the historical context and current systematic hindrances that hold so many African American’s back. For example, the unemployment rate for Blacks is double the national average, and 1 in 3 Black child live in poverty – but the unemployment rate for blacks is always significantly higher than the national average and Blacks have had high poverty rates since we were freed from slavery. In that way it is hard to measure progress or place blame on the Obama Administration.  

Low quality school districts are extremely prevalent in the black community. Poor education has been a longtime systematic obstacle for African American’s mobility in the U.S. However, when the high schools drop out rate dropped to historical lows and the graduation rates to all time highs – with most improvements coming from Black and Latin students, no sense of accomplishment was acknowledged in the black community. In reality, it is a fact that isn’t well known at all; thus not a unifier among African Americans.

The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obama Care2 has given health care to hundreds of thousands of African Americans, a race that is plagued with genetic and environmental dispositions to poor health and commonly has no proper care3. Reporters have called it one of “history’s most successful pieces of public policy in reducing racial inequality.”4 Yet when the Obama Administration was met with a massive amount of resistance from the GOP in congress and Republican citizens with picket signs, African Americans did not unify in his defense5. President Obama was facing one of his toughest times politically in order to secure an act that would benefit hundreds of thousands of African Americans but there was so significant movement to support his plan.

In February, 2014 President Obama announced the My Brother’s Keeper initiative; a non-government funded program to improve the lives of young men of color.6 This is one example of Obama specifically helping the lives of men of color, and in doing so, unifying them by providing a leader that is similar to them in ways no other president has before.  

President Obama improved the lives of countless young black men when he enacted the Fair Sentencing Act, narrowing the penalty between crack and powder cocaine. By reducing the disparity from 100:1 to 18:17, the Obama administration improved the criminal justice system and many black men and women.

Because of President Obama, African American’s higher representation in the White House and the rest of Washington. In addition, Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder’s appointments8 have allowed for federal investigations into corrupt police departments and countless other injustices. Furthermore, in response to the Black Lives Matter protests he has established a special task force on policing and reduced the use of certain military equipment by local police.  This change was brought about by African Americans and others coming together to form the Black Lives Matter movement. But the deaths of unarmed men and women by police officers initially unified the people, not President Obama.

Despite all of the victories the Obama administration have gained throughout the years in the Black community blacks have not unified as a result. But this does not deem Obama’s presidency a failure in the eyes of Dr. King. According to him, all blacks had a unique purpose in America, he believed our purpose was to “breathe life into the democracy that has lain these many generations a dead and useless thing for the millions of Black Americans.” And as he breathed life through the civil rights movement, Barack Obama has breathed life into the democracy during his presidency.  



  

Nagourney, Adam. "Obama Elected President as Racial Barrier Falls." The New York Times. 2008. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/us/politics/05elect.html?_r=0.t




1 Nagourney, Adam. "Obama Elected President as Racial Barrier Falls." The New York Times. 2008. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/us/politics/05elect.html?_r=0.

2 Siegel, Marc. "What to Expect from Obamacare in 2011." Forbes. January 4, 2011. Accessed January 26, 2016.

3 "Black - African American Populations." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015. Accessed January 26, 2016.

4 Austin, Alger. "Barack Obama's Irrefutable Victory for Racial Justice." The Nation. 2016. Accessed January 26, 2016.

5 "House Republicans Vote to Overturn Obamacare in Symbolic Move | Fox News." Fox News. 2011. Accessed January 26, 2016.

6 Capehart, Jonathan. "The 'Rise' of Obama’s My Brother's Keeper Initiative." Washington Post. May 20, 2015. Accessed January 26, 2016.

7 Austin, Alger. "Barack Obama's Irrefutable Victory for Racial Justice." The Nation. 2016. Accessed January 26, 2016.

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