The Color of Character

President and Mrs. Obama Phone Home

When I express remorse over what I see as the loss of a once in a generation opportunity by President and Mrs. Obama, most of my left-leaning friends and family are surprised. Their first thought is my frustration with President Obama’s foreign policy, but that’s a different story.

A writer at the Chicago Tribune recently gave voice to what I have been thinking. I would like to see President and Mrs. Obama devote a portion of the immediate post-presidential years to helping the black children and families in their home town of Chicago.

Although they no longer reside in the White House, the Obamas are one of the most admired couples by at least half the nation, and a vast majority of black America. While he plans to use these next years to help the Democratic Party, President Obama should think about making an even bigger and immediate impact on the lives of black youth, not only in Chicago, but across America, as others will certainly be watching what could happen here.

Using his influence, his community organizing skills, his oratory ability, and the affection and esteem in which he and Mrs. Obama are held, the former First Couple can rally the black communities in Chicago that are beaten down by unrelenting violence. They can audaciously inject hope. They can set themselves up as examples. They can teach that they did not get to where they are today by giving victimhood a place to roost, but by getting themselves educated and working hard. They can teach struggling or clueless parents how to raise responsible children. And they can use the bully pulpit, which they surely still command, to bully the bullies in the gangs that are destroying their communities.

This is something I had hoped would happen from day one of Mr. Obama’s presidency. Perhaps it was there somewhere, but however President Obama chose to use his unique position to raise up the black community, it surely showed no results in Chicago. Now that he has more time on his hands, I’d like to see him spend it here, and put his talents to work not for any political party, but to directly make a positive difference like only he can. Sometimes it seems that Fortune finally sends the right person for a difficult and challenging time — think Moses or Abraham Lincoln. Well things have never been more difficult for Chicago’s black communities. Perhaps in the post-Presidential years, Mr. Obama will arrive on the scene at just the right time to work what some would consider to be a miracle.

I hope you will click on the link above to the letter in the Tribune that expresses the possibilities.


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