In less than 60 days, former Sen. Barack H. Obama will make history as the first African-American ever to be sworn in as president of the United States.
But if recent, and numerous press accounts are to be believed, there are a growing number of angry people across the nation who don't want to see that history made.
The first paragraph of a Nov. 15 Associated Press dispatch tells the story:
"Threats against a new president historically spike right after an election, but from Maine to Idaho law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before.
The Secret Service would not comment or provide the number of cases they are investigating. But since the Nov. 4 election, law enforcement officials have seen more potentially threatening writings, Internet postings and other activity directed at Obama than has been seen with any past president-elect…"
The AP story went on detail numerous incidents, like a sign posted on a tree in Vay, Idaho "with Obama's name and the offer of a 'free public hanging"'; or a convenience store in Maine which had a sign "inviting customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin" with the added note, "Let's hope we have a winner."
The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, best known for leading the legal fight against White supremacist groups, says there have been more than 200 hate-related anti-Obama incidents nationally just in the first two weeks after is election.
During the 20-month presidential campaign, headlines were made when it was reported that, at the insistence of the Secret Service, then-Sen. Obama got Secret Service protection earlier than any of the other twenty candidates.
When Inauguration Day comes on January 20, the Secret Service, along with a multitude of other federal and local law enforcement agencies, will have their hands full when an estimated 4 million people converge on Washington, D.C. for the historic swearing in at the US Capitol.
A Secret Service spokesman told CNN this week that when Obama's motorcade leaves the Capitol towards the presidential reviewing stand, it will be the new president's choice whether he does what Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton did before–get out of his limousine and walk the long route, exposing himself to hundreds of thousands of people.
Judging by what Obama's security is dealing with now, the Secret Service would prefer that he didn't.
After the Nov. 4 election, a Black University of Alabama professor had two posters of the Obama family taken off her door, leaving a racial slur and death threat towards the president-elect in their place.
"It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork," the professor said. A check of Juicycampus.com, where students from at least 500 colleges and universities across the nation post, reveals hundreds of other disturbing anti-Obama messages.
The websites of infamous White supremacist groups like Stormfront.org that have vowed to "take our nation back" from an Obama presidency have attracted thousands of new members, the AP reports.
"God has abandoned us," a poster claimed. "This country is doomed."
And in what has to be one of the most frightening reported incidents, parents in Rexburg, Idaho reportedly complained to school officials after learning that second and third graders on a school bus were chanting, "Assassinate Obama!"
The threats and incidents have not been limited to being directed at Obama.
A Black man was reportedly beaten by two white gang members in Orange County, Calif. who shouted "racial and anti-Obama epithets in the attack."
They face hate crime and attempted robbery charges.
In Staten Island, NY, two White men allegedly beat a 17-year-old Black teenager walking home on Election Night, hitting him on the head with a bat as they yelled, "Obama." They have also been arrested and charged.
North Carolina hasn't been spared the post-Obama election ugliness.
According to the North Carolina Human Relations Commission (NCHRC), "since October 31, 2008, there have been six incidents reported to this office, four incidents reported as hate crimes and two incidents reported as hate bias incidents," a "high alert" press release from the Hate Against Violence Information Network (HAVIN) this week alleged.
"Out of the six incidents reported, five of the six incidents dealt with vandalism of Obama signs or derogatory public statements about him becoming the President-Elect," the release continued.
HAVIN and the NCHRC cautioned that with the religious holidays, Dr, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, President Obama's inaugural, Adolf Hitler's birthday and Black History Month on the way, "…be very vigilant and prepared for possible incidents to occur" from now until May 2009.
There is an expectation of increased hate group activities, and hate crimes during this period.
In Durham, Internal Affairs investigators are probing alleged racist remarks about the new president-elect posted on the online MySpace social networking pages of several Durham police officers. If true, the postings would be a violation of the department's code of conduct.
Many are willing to dismiss signs, internet rantings, and even a casket placed outside a Craven County voting precinct with Obama's name on it–something a local White county commissioner did, denying that he was threatening the black Democrat's life.
But many, like the NCNAACP, aren't.
In the aftermath of threatening racist graffiti by four unidentified NC State University students on campus referencing Obama with "KKK" and "Kill the nigger, shoot him in the head" immediately after he won Nov. 4, an "outraged" NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber and other concerned leaders met with NCSU Chancellor James Oblinger, joining with NCSU student leaders in demanding that the alleged offenders be expelled, the campus be made safer, hate crimes be outlawed on campus, and strengthen mandatory diversity courses, particularly for freshmen.
Oblinger told them he take their suggestions under advisement.
Rev. Barber was not pleased, especially since both state authorities and the Secret Service determined that no real threat was involved.
"The response of top University officials has been tepid to these thoughtful demands and presentation," the NC NAACP president said in a statement this week. "It is not clear whether these officials fully understand the problem. Their decision to permit four students, with race-hatred spilling out of their hearts, to continue taking classes and engaging in social affairs on campus, by definition creates a racially hostile learning environment for students of color."
Barber continued, "Our children should not be in an environment where they are afraid of death threats for showing their support for President-Elect Obama. They should not wonder whether the white student sitting next to them in class is a member of the group responsible for race-based threats."
Rev. Barber said a "Unity Rally" is now planned on campus for after the Thanksgiving holiday to press the matter. Barber also wants the state Legislature to strengthen the Hate Crimes statute, and the national NAACP to push Congress to cut off federal funding to schools that either "practice or tolerate racially discriminatory practices."
The concern for President Obama's safety is certainly heightened since he won, and there's strong justification for it.
Of the hundreds of violent threats against Obama the Secret Service–the federal agency historically tasked to protect the president and vice president and their families–have probed, some have made the news even before he was elected.
During the Democratic National Convention last August in Denver, Co., a group of men with firearms and bulletproof vests made racist threats against presidential nominee. They were arrested.
Two well-armed racist skinheads were arrested and charged with plotting to assault Obama's motorcade, but only after they first killed over 80 Black high school students, cutting the heads off of 12 as a symbol to their White supremacist beliefs.
While authorities determined that in both cases these suspects would not have been successful in getting near Obama, that did not diminish the concern that plotters law enforcement knows nothing about may be learning from previous mistakes.
There are some groups who suggest the press and civil rights groups are hyping a handful of publicized incidents to benefit their causes.
But according to a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor, "Most election-related threats have so far been little more than juvenile pranks.
But the political marginalization of certain Southern whites, economic distress in rural areas, and a White House occupant who symbolizes a multiethnic United States could combine to produce a backlash against what some have heralded as the dawn of a postracial America. In some parts of the South, there's even talk of secession."
Republican Party and conservative media efforts to demonize Obama as some kind of secret radical terrorist who hates America, have only added to the false negative perception some whites–many of whom believe he is a radical Muslim besides evidence to the contrary–still have of him.
Early in the Democratic primary season, when then candidate Obama began gaining steam and observers began taking his White House bid seriously, African-Americans expressed concerns even then about his safety.
"Every day I watch the polls and get excited because I know Barack Obama is going to win the whole thing," Corgins Banner, a 32-year-old Charlotte man who works for a bank, told The Dallas Morning News in October. "Then it hits me. Something is going to happen. They are going to find a way to stop him."
Indeed, while many lauded Obama's historic efforts, some, especially older African-Americans, said they wouldn't vote for him for fear that if he did win the presidency, some of "our sick white brothers" that Dr. King had referred to shortly before he was assassinated, may kill history's first Black US president.
Outspoken Black leaders have long been targets for death throughout history.
Fiery Nation of Islam spokesman Malcolm X kept a gun with him at all times after he was suspended from the black nationalist group for speaking indelicately after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. His home was fire bombed, and in February 1965, the Muslim leader was shot to death in front of his family before delivering an address at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
After the assassination of Kennedy, Dr. King said the nation was so sick with hate, that he knew he would never see his fortieth birthday.
Before he was killed by an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., King escaped death at least twice. His home had been fire bombed by white supremacists, and a deranged black woman stabbed him in the chest at a book signing.
Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton knows first hand the threats that Dr. King, Malcolm, and now President-elect Obama face.
On January 12, 1991, despite being surrounded by a host of supporters and over 100 NYC police officers, Sharpton was stabbed in the chest by a young white man in Bensonhurst, Queens.
So several weeks ago when Republican Vice Presidential running mate Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin baited her rallies with accusations that Obama "pals around with terrorists," causing some in the audience to shout "terrorist" and "kill him," Sharpton became concerned for Obama's safety.
"It concerns me because it speaks to the hate and the danger, and even if the specific people saying it at that time may not act, they could wake up, sick people, and act," Rev. Sharpton told The Carolinian/Wilmington Journal newspapers during a visit to Raleigh last month.
"I am one who has survived an assassination attempt," Sharpton continued. "I take all threats very seriously because I was almost killed in one myself. It's a very ugly thing."