Barack Obama and the Idea of an African-American Presidency


We will start the course reading some scholarly selections about the history and administrative structure of the presidency. We will then look at four instances of African Americans running for president: comedian and activist Dick Gregory in 1968, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in 1972, and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. Of course, a number of black people have run for the presidency as third-party candidates: Frederick Douglass, James Ford, Lenora Fulani, Cynthia McKinney, Angela Davis, and Eldridge Cleaver, among others. In addition, some have sought the Republican Party's nomination as conservatives, such as Alan Keyes, Herman Cain, and Ben Carson. Some of these individuals will be briefly discussed, but time will not permit us to study them. We are fortunate that Dick Gregory and Shirley Chisholm wrote firsthand accounts of their campaigns. We will then move on to the heart of the course: an examination of United States Senator from Illinois Barack Obama's successful campaign for presidency as the first black nominee of a major party. We will consider his career before he became president, and we will examine certain aspects of his presidency itself. It is hoped that this course will offer students a new understanding of the American presidency and some exposure to how black people have thought about this office as a cultural symbol and a realization of power.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM

Section 01

Barack Obama and the Idea of an African-American Presidency
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