Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fascinating Obama Tidbit

I just got curious and searched the Dow Jones Factiva database for the earliest reference to Barack Obama that I could find. First was from Chicago, a local account of Barack's community organizing efforts in 1985. It was a brief mention and they gave him a brief quote but already you got the sense that a reporter had decided that Barack, under 25 at the time, was worth taking seriously.

Then we go to 1990 when he became the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. First mentions were brief and put the Harvard Law Review into context for the rest of us -- it is a place where law students practice theories and where the more established legal mines debate them.

Then came an LA Times feature on Obama. Was the first major one, best I can tell. It ran march 12, 1990. I was going to turn 15 on March 16th 1990. Race was a huge issue at the time. We had Clarence Thomas and the LA Riots on the way.

Obama got a package that they didn't open for awhile because, the reporter noted without the need for attribution or expansion, that "shortly after the elections, a package turned up at the law review office with no return address. Obama said he hesitated to open it because of the spree of recent mail bombings targeted at civil rights activists nationwide. When the package was finally opened, inside were two packages of dim sum, with no explanation. Some students made light of the media invasion, posting a memo titled 'The Barack Obama Story, a Made for TV Movie, Starring Blair Underwood as Barack Obama.'"


Here's Obama's quote about it:

"For every one of me, there are thousands of young black kids with the same energies, enthusiasm and talent that I have who have not gotten the opportunity because of crime, drugs and poverty," he said. "I think my election does symbolize progress but I don't want people to forget that there is still a lot of work to be done."

I'm posting this, in part, because Obama needs the youth vote and I am no longer a youth. But when Obama took over the Harvard Law Review I was in high school and we were debating about things like affirmative action. It was passionate stuff. And I was, I admit, on the wrong side. I hated affirmative action. I suspected my own opportunities in life were being given away unfairly and I was a jerk about it. But, we had it out back then and it wasn't so long ago. Then Clarence Thomas happened and then the LA Riots happened. That all made the debates harsher. For me, it's when I started to think things through a little more. But it also hardened a lot of opinions, including my own. Heck, as we see today, back then we were dealing with a rotten economy that certainly contributed to things like the LA Riots.

Okay, this is a meandering post but... I looked up some old Barack stuff and found him speaking at a time where I had just become politically aware. He was so engaged in the issues of the time and he still is. Good to know.

Got to say, my initial reaction was that his quote about drugs keeping people down is milquetoast, but... heck, he is. I think he's at least an authentic milquetoast and not somebody who, like George W. Bush, has done his best to suppress his past.



At 8:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The children of all the people who left hateful and degrading comments on this blog shall be cursed for five generations. If they should take on a wife or a husband, then they too will assume the curse as well. So be it beginning this 16th day of october, 2008.


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