Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Whoa... Is This for Real?!

My son Titus will not know a time when no African-American man had ever a chance to serve in the highest office of the land. I've spent all my life thinking it utterly impossible.

My daughters Afiya and Eden can say, "I remember when Barack Obama became the first African American candidate nominated by a major party. We were living in the Cayman Islands watching it on television with our parents... really proud of the U.S."

I heard David Gergen say, "I'm from North Carolina. Barack Obama won that state with large margins. Twenty-five years ago... even ten years ago... that was unthinkable." I'm from N.C., too. I thought it was unthinkable last year.

But here we are.

Where are we exactly?

I don't think we know. But it's a different place than the one we were in two weeks ago or two decades ago. It's a completely unanticipated development--no longer arrested.

Here's one timeline:

1619--the first African slaves arrive at Jamestown, Va

Virginia, 1662 - “Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishmen upon a Negro shall be slave or Free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present Grand assembly, that all children born in this country shall be held bond or free only According to the condition of the mother."

Maryland, 1664 - “That whatsoever free-born [English] woman shall intermarry with any slave [...] shall serve the master of such slave during the life of her husband; and that all the issue of such free-born women, so married shall be slaves as their fathers were.”

Virginia, 1667 - “Act III. Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children that are slaves by birth [...] should by virtue of their baptism be made free, it is enacted that baptism does not alter the condition to the person as to his bondage or freedom; masters freed from this doubt may more carefully propagate Christianity by permitting slaves to be admitted to that sacrament.”

Virginia, 1682 - “Act I. It is enacted that all servants [...] which shall be imported into this country either by sea or by land, whether Negroes, Moors [Muslim North Africans], mulattoes or Indians who and whose parentage and native countries are not Christian at the time of their first purchase by some Christian [...] and all Indians, which shall be sold by our neighboring Indians, or any other trafficking with us for slaves, are hereby adjudged, deemed and taken to be slaves to all intents and purposes any law, usage, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.”

1712--New York Revolt

1739--The Stono Rebellion in South Carolina

1741--New York Slave Insurrection of 1741

1800--Gabriel's Rebellion in Virginia

1808--the slave trade is abolished in the U.S.

1811--Louisiana Territory Slave Rebellion, led by Charles Deslondes

1815--George Boxley Rebellion in Virginia

1822--Denmark Vesey Uprising in South Carolina ()

1831--Nat Turner's Rebellion in Virginia

1839--The Amistad Seizure on a Spanish ship

1857--Dred Scott decision, decided 7-2, held that a slave did not become free when taken into a free state; Congress could not bar slavery from a territory; and blacks could not be citizens. Furthermore, a state could not bar slave owners from bringing slaves into that state.

1861--American Civil War begins

1863--Emancipation Proclamation delivered on January 1

1865--Emancipation following American Civil War, commonly celebrated on June 19th (Juneteenth); final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in December


1870--Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first black member of the Senate and thereby also the first black member of the Congress.

1874--rise in white paramilitary organizations, such as the White League and Red Shirts, whose political aim was to turn out the Republicans. They also disrupted organizing and terrorized blacks to bar them from the polls. From 1873 to 1877, conservative white Democrats (calling themselves "Redeemers") regained power in state elections throughout the former Confederacy.

1877--President Rutherford Hayes withdrew federal troops from the South, causing the collapse of the remaining three Republican state governments. Through the enactment of disfranchising statutes and constitutions, and extralegal means, the white Democrats subsequently removed most blacks and hundreds of thousands of poor whites from voter rolls in every Southern state. White Democrats established one-party rule and enforced a system of racial segregation that continued throughout the South into the 1960s.

1876-1965--Jim Crow laws enforce de jure segregation with "separate but equal" status for blacks and whites.

1960-1980--Civil Rights Movement

1954--Brown v. Board of Education overturned earlier rulings going back to Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, by declaring that state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students denied black children equal educational opportunities. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9-0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

1964--the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark legislation in the United States that outlawed segregation in the U.S. schools and public places.

1965--Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African-Americans in the United States.

Tonight--Barack Husein Obama, as "white" as he is "black," became the first "black" Presidential nominee of a major political party in United States history.

It's been a long road. And many have cried, "How long, Lord?" But it's undeniable that the sovereign hand of God has moved to change things radically.

One other thing seems certain: The patronizing political strategy of promising token positions with little influence to some African American leaders in exchange for delivering the black vote is out the window. If a man with brown skin can be President, who needs political fool's gold and worthless trinkets? If a man with brown skin can run a successful candidacy not predicated upon "race," not "race" baiting, not settling for the conventional wisdom that insists upon race-based coalitions, then the rules for old-styled politics are over.

Perhaps there will be a Willie Horton pulled out of someone's political tool box. But for tonight, everything is potentially different.

Never thought I'd see the day.


Anonymous said...

It is really a historic moment! I simply call it "sweet [divine] providence."


Anonymous said...

I watched "Amazing Grace" last night and felt my eyes get watery a few times during the film.

I praise God that He has always raised up men and women like William Wilberforce to see things through.

As a white American raised in the hills of Kentucky, I never thought I would see this day either. I praise God that He alone has brought this change to our country.

Our country still has lots of things to improve on, and the issue or racism isn't dead at all. But this is a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

This is bittersweet for me. It is sweet for all the reasons you mention in your post. It is bitter because of Obama's position on abortion and the unborn of all colors who never get to see the light of day.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if this is out of line, but as Christians, is there a concern that this post and these comments equate to support of Mr. Obama? While I agree that his nomination is historic in relation to issues of race, let us not forget his stance on several issues that are antithetical to a Christian worldview. I would be grateful for any comments or corrections to my thought process.
God Bless.


Pastor Pablito said...

It is a historic time and would have been had either Democratic candidate won the nomination. I guess it still is even more so as we look at how far Hillary made it in the race (and the fact that she could still be running for VP with BO).

I have to agree with Jeremy and Steve, that Obama's position on abortion and in my opinion, gay rights should make him a non-candidate for any Christian. I personally disagree with him on several other issues, but these two I will not give an inch on.

I only pray that people will not vote just for the historic aspect of this but will actually listen to what the candidates stand for.

As a conservative Republican, I am not thrilled that McCain is the choice for our party.


Todd Pruitt said...

No doubt about it; these are historic days. But the only thing new about Mr. Obama is the color of his skin. The fact is, his politics are hard line liberal in the tradition of Ted Kennedy. His time in the Senate only confirms this. He has not been a consensus builder. He has not been one who reaches across the aisle. If he is elected president and then governs as he has operated in the senate then it may well doom another black man from being seriosly considered for the office of president for many years to come.

I think an interesting question is why has Barack Obama been so celebrated in the popular media while many other truly qualified black men and women been almost completely ignored?

Jim Rector said...


I respect you and enjoy listing to you and reading your writings. But I'm not at all excited about Obama. Based on his views and what he would push for, Obama = "Marxist" in my eyes. We've been fighting against the very things he espouses for over 60 years. I'd like the freedom to direct MY money where I see fit and not have the government redistribute it for me. Now if it was J.C. Watts as a presidential nominee, I'd be all over that.


Anonymous said...


"If he is elected president and then governs as he has operated in the senate then it may well doom another black man from being seriosly considered for the office of president for many years to come."

Is this how we measure a particular group of people? Hence, every black man becomes a network of ideas and conversations? Then, they are not adequately defined by who they are but by what a particular community thinks about them. So any black man becomes what the culture makes him to be. The difficult thing for me Todd is that you, as a shepherd of God's people evaluate people in this manner and place them where you think they should be.

I'm going to end this with a note that I made in other blogs:
If we hold to and confess the doctrine of grace, (particularly divine sovereignty and predestination) assuredly most of us do here; then Barrack’s presidential nomination should not be a threat to Evangelical Christianity. It is clear in the Isaianic narrative it was God himself who appointed Cyrus King of Persia and used him for his own purpose and glory (Isa.45: 1-13; 10-13). This pagan king was interestingly called the “Lord’s anointed” (Heb. mashiyach [maw-shee'-akh]), which means he was specifically chosen and set apart for a particular task; that is to accomplish all God’s desires. Was the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar a mistake? What about other wicked kings mentioned in the books of Kings and Chronicles? In addition, kings Manasseh, Amon, these guys were really wicked. How about Hitler, Saddam, Stalin, and many others—were great and evildoers/ leaders. What shall we say then? Is God unwise to allow Barrack to be the Democratic Presidential Nominee? Wait and See… you might be surprised to see Barrack elected as our the next President of the United States.

Let me close with a word from Paul, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? ( Rom 2:1-4)

Anonymous said...

As an African old man of european extraction in south africa, I remember watching with outer disbelief the release of nelson mandela in 1990 from prison after 27 yrs. Never did i ever think i would see that day in my life. we were brought up on the menu to never to expect that day. Obama's rise is historic. All christians are obviously worried about his stance on very fundamental moral issues (abortion, gays etc.). However my view is that the US has a real spiritual dilemna which is being reflected in its leadership. G.W.Bush espoused evangelical beliefs but has ruled through deceit and outright lies. His destruction of iraq (by the way THEY too are God's creation and in need of Christ. I have met Americans that rarely think of muslims as being worthy of christ) is a case in point. My appeal to you brethren is Pray, pray , pray. The condition of the USA goes beyond Obama.

Vitamin Z said...

Thanks for this post. Helpful to see the progression.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with my brother Ric. I understand that as Christians, we hold to some "non-negotiables" such as abortion, etc. but ther are other issues equally important. Thus,we must believe that God's sovreignty, mercifully extends beyond the man. Praise the Lord. Let us pray for the man--whoever he might be.God can use ANY vessel


Todd Pruitt said...


I am not quite sure what you are talking about.

If Obama is elected president I am convinced he will do harm to future black candidates who will unfairly be compared to him. I do no approve of this but it is a reality. I am simply pointing it out. Personally I would love to see a black person with real qualification run for president. They do exist although they are mostly ignored by the media and often times hated by liberal blacks (Clarence Thomas, Shelby Steele, Thomas Stowell, Ken Blackwell, Condi Rice, etc.)

Don't for a moment assume you know how I evaluate people. You do not know me sir.

I am not sure what you are trying to say with your examples of Hitler etc. How has anything I have said denied the sovereignty of God in ordaining our leaders? By your reasoning, it seems that we shouldn't even vote. After all if God is doing the choosing then why should we vote? The fact that God ordains even those rulers who are unjust or wicked does not mean that God's people are to remain silent.

Also, I do not know why you are quoting Romans 2 to me unless you think I stand under the judgment of God. Does Romans 2 prevent us from making judgments about a politician's policies?

Barack Obama's views are wrong. They reflect either moral confusion or moral corruption. The fact that he seems to be favored by over 95% of the nation's blacks is very troubling.

Anonymous said...


I apologize if I stated anything offensive. Can we celebrate the fact that for the first time in the history of this great nation we nominated an African American as the Presidential Nominee. It is hard to believe, right?
We're already aware of Obama shortcomings,so there's no need to point them out again. This is not the moment for that. Who is not aware of Obama's "moral corruption" as you stated. Even my 4 yr old son is aware of Obama liberal views:). I, myself, disagree with Obama's stands on many things such as abortion.

It is not because one disagrees with his policy on various issues that one has to stab him in the back at this particular moment. C'mon now...!

Let's rejoice with him and the African American people.
Once again, it is unreasonable and even sinful to compare one black person to another. All blacks are not the same.

Moreover, I am not undermining human libertarian freedom (if that really exist:) )in making real decisions. In fact, I believe God's sovereignty is compatible with human freedom.

Todd Pruitt said...

It is difficult for me to celebrate a man whose views I find repugnant. It is hard for me to celebrate a man whom I believe would do great damage to the U.S. if elected president. As I have already written, there are more than a few black and men and women whose candidacy would be truly worth celebrating.

If Barack Obama is our next president the he will be my president. I will pray for him and lead my congregation in praying for him. His presidency will be the result of God's sovereign design. However, I will also pray that his policies are frustrated and stopped at every turn.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the ideal world would be one in which color did not matter & I indeed pray for that time. However, I am unclear as why we would celebrate this man. I do not feel that a man should be celebrated on color alone & based on my exposure to him I feel that is all he has to offer the American public. The issue of abortion is of course significant but his stands on multiple issues are concerning. His comments, written statements in books, background, spiritual beliefs etc are all alarming. I don't believe an election should be based on color, it should be based on honor, integrity, previous experiences & ability to lead. It should not be based on appeal by skin color, nor should Obama's skin color be one to celebrate, it should be what's underneath the skin. Support of him due to his race itself seems like racism to me, the ability to accept all the negative solely because his skin color. Discouraging.