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November 5th, 2008
08:28 AM ET

Will a black president really heal the racial divide?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/11/04/election.president/art.obama.speech.01.cnn.jpg]T.D. Jakes
Time.com

The African slaves who provided most of the labor that built the White House never imagined that a black man would ever own embossed stationery that read "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." Even the dreamer himself, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., might not have imagined that 40 short years after his murder, we would be planning an Inauguration of the first man of African descent to ascend to the presidency.

No minority of any ethnicity had ever looked beyond the scarce representation of a few Senators and seen anything that suggested that the doorknob of the Oval Office could be opened by anything other than the hand of a middle-aged white male.

One of the youngest Presidents in the history of our nation will bring new shades to the canvas of white leaders who came before his unprecedented political career. Senator Barack Obama has proved to be a biracial icon who can mobilize blacks and whites alike. Perhaps his mixed parentage gave him the multicultural background needed to be culturally bilingual, creating the dialogue that may bridge our divide.

Our national demographic has metamorphosed into a darker-hued population, which is changing how America plans for the future. The cultural dialogue and language are changing. Political parties, churches and corporations must rethink how we go forward and with whose needs in mind. Without question, Obama's Administration will reshape the good-ole-boys' club we have seen for centuries, altering the political terrain, and it may very well spawn new hope for the disenfranchised.

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soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Johnna

    The election of Obama is a victory for all Americans. It shows that there is truly hope for the unification of this country.

    November 6, 2008 at 9:32 am |
  2. Barnesl

    Change For all ................. "It is easy to get everything you want, provided you first learn to do without the things you cannot ger." –E. Hubbard.

    November 5, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  3. Rachel

    I have faith this man will bring us all together in his mild, gentle way.
    God Bless him and we all need to get behind this person. He is what we've needed for a long time. I see no color. We are all Americans and came from a diverse background. At a time like this we need to quit knit picking and get this country back in shape. No more bad mouthing. It is already peaceful without Palin and McCain. They were the dividers. Not blacks. God Bless America and all of us whether we be black, white, brown, red, or whatever. We are all children of God so let's act like it. This is the good old USA. We are a proud people and we have overcome a lot. I see a bright future for all of us because now it will be there to grasp with a little effort.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  4. Melissa, Los Angeles

    The media keeps perpetuating this racial divide by constantly publishing/saying we have the first Black President – we have the first Black AND White President.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  5. Earl Warren Hickman

    When it come to Barack and race, my question is, do white America do not count you as white if you got a drop of black blood. Barack Dad is Black, and Mom is White, but some white americans say they wont vote for a black man. Why dont anybody label Barack with White America. He is as much White as he is Black. Why no Black people havent said "I'm not voting for a white man". Why dont Barack get credit for his White Family, and his white up-bringing. Why do Black America accept Barack as a Black man, even though he is 50/50, but White America is giving Barack not credit as a white man? So it seem to be label as White American you got to be PURE 100% white. Is this the way we view races that mixes?

    November 5, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  6. Stan Divorski

    Even if African Americans voted for Obama purely because of his race, they would have nothing to apologize for. The press is full of stories of white Americans who supported Pallin because " she is just like me". They were not criticized for this attitude, and African Americans should not be differentially criticized for voting for someone more likely to understand their lives and challenges.

    November 5, 2008 at 12:52 pm |
  7. david

    why is everybody still trying to make this black or white grow up it should be just about people color is nothing leave it alone an again GROW UP!!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  8. T. Leach

    Anderson,
    I just thought you would like to see the disturbing comments filtering in newspapers all over lower Alabama. Is this not 2008?Please pray for the mindsets of these people. They truly need it .

    The Andalusia Star News:
    Posted by justice (anonymous) on November 5, 2008 at 6:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)
    all i can say is to the ones that voted for obomba ,if you ever want a ticket to africa or where ever, we true americans who salute the flag can help you im sure.

    November 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  9. Maria

    It is the promise land; Americans last night married their beautiful value, democracy. That is the real color, the real taste and the absolute love to liberty. Long live Americans, you made history and you will continue in making history as long you adhere to your true values, liberty and democracy.

    November 5, 2008 at 12:31 pm |
  10. Lydia

    Thanks T.D. Jakes! Great article.

    November 5, 2008 at 12:29 pm |
  11. Marcus Williams

    The election is over. Now let me give you an example of a personal, concrete outcome of the rethoric of hate that has been coming out so many voices, for so many months:
    This morning, my kids (ages 9 and 6) and I woke up to the shattered rear window of our car, hit by a rock because of an Obama-Biden sticker. How's that for shaterring change, for mature democracy? A hateful, sour-loser vented his/her rage and hidden aversions on our family. This is in "modern", "progressive" Arizona.
    We still have so very far to go, as atested by the "boos" during McCain's speech last night, as the hateful messages in most internet posts, on both sides, before and after the election (check them out, check out the level of hate that is running accross America).
    Obama's message was loud and clear last night: we still need to "heal the divides that have held back our progress". I am so proud of this day, but I am weary of the hate and anger that hides under the facade of civility in so many Americans. Racism and hate hide in many americans every day. I fear it will never go away.
    I hope you address these issues in your show.
    Thank God the election is over. I hope you and the rest of the media will contribute to the healing process.

    Marcus

    November 5, 2008 at 12:07 pm |
  12. Kim

    If Sen. Obama can run the country as well as he ran his campaign, we will be okay. I hope he can rise above the fray and be the man and leader he has led millions to believe he is.

    November 5, 2008 at 12:05 pm |
  13. Teriss

    Barack Obama has already reached some Americans that would not have voted for a black man but did. You must remember also that he is bi-racial not entirely one race or the other.

    I believe he has the capacity to be a leader to any race if they allow him. There are some die hard racists that will never accept him as their President but they are from an older generation.

    This was also an election that separated old from the young voters and maybe -just maybe the older generation can strive to support this President instead of letting their personal opinions take over.

    There is much repairing to do of all the damage of the last eight years, and we don't have time for old negativity.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:55 am |
  14. Deirdre

    I think a black president has already begun to heal the racial divide just by bringing us together to vote for him. There is more work to do though... and we must all work... together.

    A special Thank You to all who fought and died so that we would all see this day come (slaves, Martin Luther King, freedom riders, Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson, etc…. and to all the American voters who sealed the deal last night (blacks, whites, hispanics, asians, indians, etc.)

    God Bless America! We have arrived… now let’s continue climbing the mountain TOGETHER.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:53 am |
  15. Max

    Not if you KEEP talking about the RACIAL divide – you will RECREATE one!!!!

    November 5, 2008 at 11:51 am |
  16. Larry

    If you look, seriously, at obama's descent then you will know that he is mostly of caucasian then arabic and then african descent. However, since you are only going by skin color and that there is no large arab-american community then I can see why you invoke the 'race card'.
    Its sad that people don't take the time to study the genealogy of their candidate as they did with Sen. McCain.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  17. Ernwestine Green

    the time has come for all people to be as one and not make race an issue, President Barack is for unity and he will work hard for that cause. Thank you God.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  18. JENNIFER PORTER

    ROSA PARKS SAT SO MARTIN COULD WALK, MARTIN WALKED SO OBAMA COULD RUN, OBAMA IS RUNNING SO OUR CHILDREN CAN FLY...

    November 5, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  19. Sharon Hobbs

    I am a woman who grew up during civil rights, end of the viet nam war, saw the forming of medicare, and so many other great things that this country has to be proud of. By Far electing Barak Obama has been the most impressive ! Cnn is calling him the first Black American President. He has accomplished far more than that title.
    Barack Obama is the first multi racial President to be elected. That accompishment is far greater. The prejudices that exist against multi racial Americans are much more difficult to overcome. In my experience no race wants to claim them. Now America can claim him ! This is a wonderful day for all Americans, we can be proud of what this country has accomplished.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:40 am |
  20. Betty, Virginia

    I think the wording is wrong... It's not will a black president really heal the racial divide; it's whether the American people will really heal the racial divide.

    Let us not forget, the racial divide is two sided. A large majority of black people voted for Obama. Progress will also need to include whether black people will vote for a white president over a black president because of their qualifications.

    I am proud of how far we've come, but there is more healing to be done. We're moving in the right direction. President Obama will open the doors for us to continue in the right direction but all of us will have to chose to walk through it.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:31 am |
  21. Bob

    Can someone in the media talk about the 10 foot high glass wall that was between Barrack and the audience during his acceptance speech. Did anyone not notice it????

    November 5, 2008 at 11:29 am |
  22. Tina M

    Mr Cooper,

    I have a question for you...Why does it seem the media, in a whole, is stuck on Barack Obamas race? And why do you all get it wrong?!? He is not full 'African Americann' nor is he full 'Caucasion American'. He is both half and half. Why look and focus on one over the other? Don't you see that as being part of the proiblem in this country? Why further the OLD ridiculous ways of looking at FELLOW AMERICANS? Why not look Without color being an issue? Barack Obama, granted I have never net him, but seems to be a VERY honest and man with his integrity still intacted, and that has nothing to do with his skin tone.
    Okay maybe there was more than 1 question in this note to you, 🙂 But I truly would like for someone, I think as having a balanced view, to address for me. Explain why things are this way in your profession; therefore making such a silly issue mainstream.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:25 am |
  23. Cindy

    OK..for one...Obama is not black...he is mixed, yet ya'll fail to talk about his white side and he does too!

    Secondly...he only won this thing because of the economy and Bush. 48% of Americans voted against him. Of the ones that voted for him 50% said they only did so because of Bush not because they like him or his policies.

    As far as racism goes....he will have no effect on it. People will continue to hate. In fact this just gives the black racist...yes there are some...more ammo to hate the white man.

    Cindy...Ga.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:23 am |
  24. Scott Nagrod

    CNN did it right. They let the sounds of the park speak for itself after Obama's speech ended.... about 10 minutes or more they let the TV audience just soak up the moment and live history as it happened with out commentary or commercial interruption. Amazing. They should be lauded for their class.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:19 am |
  25. Kimberly, Bailey, Colorado

    This is not about race, this is about america of all colors. We are all in this together. Now we have to work very hard together to get this nation back on track and to take care of business. Get our guys home from abroad and build this nation for what it is suppose to be. I fell as the weight of the world has been lifted and its time to go to work.

    November 5, 2008 at 11:19 am |