“I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. “ –President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address 2009
It hasn’t been an easy road by any means for the first African-American President of the United States—which is actually a gross understatement. Nevertheless, Barack Obama has led this country with grace, dignity and strength of character that is no doubt God-given.
He’s had an agenda from the very beginning, a checklist of improvements meant to bring America back to the example it’s always aspired to be. On Obama’s checklist: healthcare reform, repairing the economy, ending war, initiating vital programs for education among many others as well as bracing and leading our nation through mind-numbing tragedies.
“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met…”–President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address 2009
Yes, the challenges were real but President Obama was ready to take them on and find a solution. He managed to create universal health insurance, the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which covered 32 million uninsured Americans starting in 2014. Obama turned unemployment around when he signed a $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. As a result the economy began to recover with more jobs especially in the private sector. He declared war on terrorism both abroad and here in the United States ending the threat of Osama Bin Laden setting in motion the end of the War in Afghanistan.
“We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.” –President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address 2009
President Obama has been a champion for equality, freedom and pursuing happiness. He has made sweeping changes in establishing the rights of the LGBT community, women and people of color in the United States. As part of the 2010 health care reform bill, which ended practices of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. In July 2010, all students received federal student loans directly from the federal government, which resulted in expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students. Thanks to the stimulus package Obama signed, a $4.35 billion program of competitive grants for education reform. He also helped families affected by the recession by signing a series of measures to extend unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes. Obama increased the Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 16 percent and 2011 budget by 10 percent. He also signed a new GI bill offering $78 billion in tuition assistance and provides multiple tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans.
“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted–for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things–some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor–who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.” –President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address 2009
Obama didn’t shy away from the violence that besieged Black communities in recent years. He recognized the importance of the situation and has reiterated the importance of civil rights and changing the politics with the police department and the black community. Obama has cited income inequality as an issue as well as disparities in unemployment, pay and criminal justice.
“…And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more…”–President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address 2009
On the global stage, President Obama has represented the United States with grace, poise and respect. He addressed the global economy in 2009 and 2010 and helped secure from G-20 nations more than $500 billion for the IMF to provide lines of credit and other support to emerging market countries. Between 2008 and 2011, the image of United States rose in ten of fifteen countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project by 26 percent. He stood up to terrorism with European and Arab governments against Gaddafi’s regime in Libya. Obama publicly challenged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to accept reform or step down, which resulted in Mubarak overthrown on February 11. He signed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (2010) to punish firms and individuals who aid Iran’s petroleum sector. In 2011-12, Obama worked with other major Western powers to impose sanctions aimed at Iran’s banks and with Japan, South Korea, and China to shift their oil purchases away from Iran.
The list of accomplishments are many and Barack Obama has accomplished more during his term than past presidents. He inherited a job that was beyond overwhelming and met the challenges with wisdom despite a barrage of attacks from his own government and colleagues. Barack Obama is a legend because he didn’t collapse under the weight of his job. He did exactly what he set out to do—make the United States of America a beacon of hope for the world.
“America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.” –President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address 2009
Thank you Barack Obama for setting the bar of what the President of United States should exemplify, and exude to the world.
You are a LEGEND.
LEGENDS is the brainchild of Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel. LEGENDS recognizes the Black diaspora of people, places and moments that have made an impact on history, culture and the global stage. LEGENDS was a weekly column written by former managing editor, Yussuf J. Simmonds. Email comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Type “LEGENDS” in the subject line of your email.