“There are times when the words that are spoken about me hurt. There are times when the barbs sting. There are times when it feels like all these efforts are for naught, and change is so painfully slow in coming, and I have to confront my own doubts. But let me tell you – during those times, it’s faith that keeps me calm.” – PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
On the first anniversary of Barack Obama’s historic inauguration, African-Americans are still overwhelmingly supportive of the nation’s first black president, an even-tempered visionary who offers a sense of hope for many blacks who are unemployed, struggling financially, and praying for compassionate leadership from a man of faith.
Even as the overall black unemployment rate has skyrocketed to 15 percent and the jobless rate among black males between the ages of 16 to 19 has soared to a staggering 49.4 percent, blacks are more optimistic about their progress in America than at any time in the past 25 years, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
Pollsters say Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president is responsible for the optimistic assessment by blacks in a range of issues, including race relations and expectations for a brighter of future in the black community. Thirty-nine percent of blacks say they are better off now than five years ago, according to the poll.
“I still support Obama because I believe in the pragmatic approach he’s taking to everything he was dealt from the previous administration,” Keshea Madison, a national recruiter for an Atlanta-based logistics company, told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
“I didn’t think he would solve all of our problems with a wave of a wand or within a year,” Madison said. “Our problems have been a long time coming. However, I do appreciate him tackling the big issues, and he’s done more in his first year than any other president. I believe in the changes he’s making with health care, though it isn’t perfect, but it sure is better than what we have. And I applaud his calm demeanor when dealing with negativity, disrespect and lies.”
Rev. Cornelius Wheeler, pastor of Vermont Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., is also one of Obama’s staunch supporters.
“We’ve never been more proud than we were a little more than a year ago when you were elected president,” Wheeler said in introducing Obama to his congregation last Sunday. “I don’t know about the political correctness of this next statement, but it took eight years for them to mess everything up; I don’t know why they don’t have a little more patience while you fix it.”
Wheeler’s views reflect those of many African-Americans who say they are becoming increasingly frustrated by right-wing critics of Obama and those who are not giving Obama a fair assessment in his first year in office.
According to the Pew poll, Obama’s election has also resulted in the way Americans perceive race relations. Fifty-four percent of African-Americans said that Obama winning the White House has improved race relations, while only 7 percent said his election has worsened race relations.
Charles D. Ellison, director of the Center for New Politics and Policy, said African-American support for President Obama remains high one year into his presidency because blacks believe Obama relates directly to their concerns.
“If the election for his second term were to take place tomorrow, Obama would enjoy, at the very least, a high margin of grassroots, base support from the African-American community,” Ellison told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “In this sense, the recent Pew Social Trends survey is accurate: Signs of black euphoria, despite a recession that’s battered us, can be directly linked to the feel good nature of …..