With the Florida/Michigan matter resolved, Barack Obama becomes the first African American Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
From slave ships to Selma, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Rosa Parks, from Shirley Chisholm to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and now to Illinois Senator Barack Obama who became the great beneficiary of the many struggles of African Americans as the first Democratic Presidential candidate in the History of America.
To say that it has been a long time coming could not even be considered an understatement since it was never considered a possibility to begin with that a Black man would stand a chance to command the highest office in the nation.
However, here we are more than 40 years after Blacks were first allowed the right to vote in 1965 that Obama sits poised and ready to lead America into an evolution of change.
After five grueling months of a Democratic primary that unveiled the ugly wounds of racism and pitted a former First Lady whose last name—Clinton—stood for the closest Black President the nation would know, Obama defied all conventional logic and withstood one assault after another to end the historic campaign on Tuesday.
“This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past, our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face, our time to offer a new direction for this country that we love,” Obama said to thunderous applause during his victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota.
A victory on the final day of the primary season in Montana and secured enough delegates for him to wrap up the Democratic nomination. Obama confirmed his historical moment at the site for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
“I will be the Democratic nominee to be the President of the United States.” He referred to his win as a “defining moment for our nation” while galvanizing his supporters across the country toward the general election in November.
After the delegate number had been revised from 2025 to 2118 as a consequence of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) meeting May 30, many super-delegates rallied behind Obama as he was able to reach the magic number even before the polls closed on Tuesday. The final tally stood at 2,154 for Obama and 1,923 for Clinton.
Now that the dust is clear, Obama was gracious in victory, telling reporters, “I will meet her (Senator Hillary Clinton) at a place and time of her choosing.” However, in a speech prior to Obama’s, Clinton seemed defiant, feigning admission without concession. Donna Brazille, an uncommitted super-delegate, who is also a Sentinel columnist, reacting to Clinton’s speech on CNN saying, “I was disappointed that she did not reach out to Senator Obama in her speech as he reached out to her (in his speech).”
Tuesday’s announcement also came after several high-profile super-delegates, including former President Jimmy Carter and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who had previously endorsed Clinton, pledged their support to him.
The evening followed last weekend’s meeting of the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Puerto Rico’s primary when it seemed that the Democrats still might not have a nominee by Tuesday. The DNC met to decide the answer to the long-awaited question of the primary season: How will the delegates from Florida and Michigan be apportioned after they had violated party rules?
In August 2006, 300 members of the DNC Rules Committee voted to have only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina vote prior to Super Tuesday—February 5). Florida and Michigan held their primaries anyway, in January, and that is how the problem was created.
Alexis Herman, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration and James Roosevelt, grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt presided over the meeting and arrived at a solution that the committee voted on and approved. As expected, everyone was not in harmony with the committee results however, it was due to the skill and experience of Herman that the matter was brought to a conclusion.
Brazille was one of the speakers who brought some clarity to the process stressing the importance of the decision and said, “There’s no question that the pressure is on to end this nomination fight.”
David Plouffle, Obama’s campaign manager issued the following statement: “The Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee agreed to a fair solution to allow Florida and Michigan to participate in the national convention in August. Barack gained a total of 68 delegates from Florida and Michigan combined.” To Obama’s credit, he followed all the rules and made all the concessions.
Now, as he stands on the shoulders of Black heroes whose blood, sweat and tears made this moment possible, Sen. Obama is only months away from possibly reaching a peak that no one imagined possible even 15 years ago—President of the United States.
In a country where Black people were once considered three-fifths of a human being, Obama’s victory on June 3 gave hope to a generation of cast-offs that they too can go from sitting at the back of the bus to driving the bus.