: Sen. Barack Obama
claimed victory Tuesday in the Democratic nominating battle, positioning himself to become the first black presidential candidate to compete in a general election for a major political party.
In this video report, Gwen Ifill discusses Obama’s history-making moment with three distinguished analysts:
Peniel Joseph, professor of history and African-American studies at Brandeis University, and author of “Waiting ‘til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America.”
Maria Echaveste, University of California at Berkeley Law School, served as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff in the Bill Clinton White House.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress.
“This is an extraordinary moment in American history and, really, a deep progression of American democracy, having the first African-American presidential candidate in a country where, just 43 years ago, the president, another Democrat, signed a Voting Rights Act that he said, basically, gave away the South for a generation because of the racial divisions that we perceived.” Peniel Joseph
“I am a representative from South Carolina , a state where they gave this country Strom Thurmond, who bolted the Democratic Party 60 years ago this year, 1948. Strom Thurmond ran for president on the state’s rights ticket because he did not like the idea of a Democratic Party putting into its platform a plank on race, because we wanted to try to integrate the Armed Services. Here we are, 60 years later, nominating an African-American to be president of the United States.” - James Clyburn
“Across the country, unfortunately, there continue to be some people who can’t get past looking at someone because of their ethnicity or the color of the skin. But there are many more people — and that’s what’s so wonderful about this country — there’s an optimism and a hope.” - Maria Echaveste
Name at least two reasons why the 2008 Democratic primary campaign is being labeled “historic.”
What might it mean to African-Americans to have an African-American presidential candidate? What is unique about Barack Obama’s family history? Do you think Americans know or care about his family history? Do you think people know or care about John McCain’s family history? Why or why not?
What does Echaveste mean when she says: “I don’t want Obama to be a footnote. I really want him to be the president of the United States.” Do you think attitudes about race have changed in your school or your community as a result of Obama’s campaign? What is the difference in age between Obama and McCain? Do you think their ages will affect the November election? Why do you think Hispanic voters tended to favor Hillary Clinton over Obama? What factors might influence Hispanic voters to choose between McCain and Obama? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of an Obama-Clinton ticket? Do you think it will happen? Suppose another “historic” election occurs in 2012 or 2016 - what possibilities might make it historic? What other barriers remain to be surmounted?
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