It’s a very brief interview, but if you are aware of Franklin’s own personal story it is easy to appreciate the excitement that comes through visually and vocally. Consider his autobiography for your summer reading list.
If you had asked me last year at this time whether an African American could be nominated by either the Republican or Democratic parties for the presidency I would have said you are crazy. It looks like that by the end of the evening the Democratic Party will have accomplished just that. At the same time it is easy to imagine the primary process taking a slightly different turn with the result being the first female presidential candidate – a significant achievement in its own right.
Regardless of your political affiliation or feelings about how Obama has handled the campaign and the many controversial moments, you should feel proud as an American that we are now at a point in our nation's history where such an outcome is possible. The historian in me can't help but place this in historical context. Two African Americans served in the U.S. Senate during Reconstruction, both representing the state of Mississippi. The first, Hiram Revels was elected in 1870 and sat in Jefferson Davis's old seat while Blanche K. Bruce, a former slave, was elected in 1875. Since then, only three African-Americans–Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts (1967-1978), Carol Moseley Braun (1993-1998) and Barack Obama (2004-)–have held seats in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, 121 African Americans have served since 1868. On the state level only one African American served as governor in Louisiana during the winter of 1872-73 before Douglas Wilder of Virginia was elected in 1989.
This nation is turning an important corner tonight and I couldn't be prouder. As of the writing of this post, Obama is only 11 delegates shy of the nomination. Finally, we are one step closer to getting rid of the current occupant of the White House.
Wait…if they make the lettering just a little smaller they should be able to fit the Confederate flag on the right side. The state can then offer a two-for-one deal. Read the story here.
I am reading Rick Perlstein's new book on Richard Nixon and the rise of modern conservatism, titled Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. It's quite good and I highly recommend it. I am reading through the chapter on Ronald Reagan's run for governor of California; at one point Perlstein sketches the culture wars of the mid-1960s and the moral panic that led many California conservatives to view Reagan as their guy. One example he uses is an excerpt from a review of historian John Hope Franklin's Land of the Free (1966). The publication in question concluded that it:
destroys pride in America's past, develops a guilt complex, mocks American justice, indoctrinates toward Communism, is hostile to religious concepts, overemphasizes Negro participation in American history, projects negative thought models, criticizes business and free enterprise, plays politics, foments class hatred, slants and distorts facts and promotes propaganda and poppycock.
Hey Horowitz…you got nothin' on this guy.
Dear Mr. President,
Well, another year of teaching is quickly coming to a close and the wife and I are in the middle of planning our summer vacation. I know how important education is to you and I always keep your words in mind whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or tired: “Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?” The wife and I wanted to thank you for sending along our much awaited Economic Stimulus check for $1,200 which we plan to apply to our vacation expenses. At first we hoped to travel to northern Europe including Amsterdam, Stockholm, Oslo and Bremen, but because of high gas prices and the weak dollar we had to scrap our plans. I guess we all have to make sacrifices during these difficult times. I recently heard on the news that after you ordered the invasion of Iraq you decided to give up golf as a gesture to the brave men and women who were fighting and dying overseas. That must have been extremely difficult for you but I am sure that our military appreciates the gesture.
Instead we are planning another trip to Montreal for the Montreal Jazz Festival which begins in late June. We had a wonderful time in the city last summer. Just in case you didn’t know Montreal is in Canada which is our neighbor to the north. If you were to get into your truck and drive north for about 10 hours you can’t miss it. Anyway, our hotel is booked in the old town section of the city and we were able to purchase some excellent concert tickets. On Friday night we are going to see the Saxophone Summit with Dave Liebman, Joe Lavano, and Ravi Coltrane followed by Brad Mehldau solo. On Saturday we will see Brad Mehldau again, but this time with his trio and the Gonzalo Rubalcaba Quintet. Finally, on Sunday we will see Hank Jones and Charlie Haden. This doesn’t include all of the free concerts that run on at least five different stages throughout the afternoon hours.
From Montreal we will drive to New York City for four days where we plan on checking out a bunch of museums and even an opera. Back in 2001 you climbed up on some rubble in the downtown area and if memory serves me it was the last time that the country was rallied around you. Those were good days Mr. President. Don’t worry, in a few months you can get back to your golf game and pretend that the last eight years never happened. Thanks again for the check and we will be sure to send you and Laura a postcard.