The New Yorker
The Joshua Generation
Race and the campaign of Barack Obama
By David Remnick
November 17, 2008
Speaking at a church in Selma, Obama was not a patriarch and not a prophet but the prophesied. “I’m here because somebody marched,” he said. “I’m here because you all sacrificed for me.”
See and extremely beautiful graphic in this article.
Some excerpts :
Barack Obama could not run his campaign for the Presidency based on political accomplishment or on the heroic service of his youth. His record was too slight. His Democratic and Republican opponents were right: he ran largely on language, on the expression of a country’s potential and the self-expression of a complicated man who could reflect and lead that country. And a powerful thematic undercurrent of his oratory and prose was race. Not race as invoked by his predecessors in electoral politics or in the civil-rights movement, not race as an insistence on tribe or on redress; rather, Obama made his biracial ancestry a metaphor for his ambition to create a broad coalition of support, to rally Americans behind a narrative of moral and political progress. He was not its hero, but he just might be its culmination...................In October, 2005, two months after Hurricane Katrina, Rosa Parks died, at the age of ninety-two, in Detroit. Her signal act of defiance on the evening of December 1, 1955, her refusal to vacate her seat near the front of the Cleveland Avenue bus in Montgomery, Alabama, what Martin Luther King, Jr., called the ultimate gesture of "I can take it no longer" was the precipitating act of the city’s bus boycott and the civil-rights movement. For two days, her body lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda, in Washington—an honor accorded only twenty-nine times before. Then, on November 2nd, in Detroit, there was a funeral service at the Greater Grace Temple Church. Thousands lined the streets to wave farewell and sing the old anthems and hymns. Four thousand packed the sanctuary. The service lasted seven hours.................."That funeral was so long that I can hardly remember it!" Bishop T. D. Jakes, the pastor of the Potter’s House, a Dallas church of thirty thousand congregants, said. "Everyone was there!" Jesse Jackson, the Clintons, Al Sharpton, Aretha Franklin, and a phalanx of preachers all paid tribute to Parks. Bill Clinton reminisced about riding segregated buses in Jim Crow Arkansas and then feeling the liberating effect of Parks’s act. On the street, a marine played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, and the congregants sang "She Would Not Be Moved."............
Obama, the sole African-American member in the United States Senate, had also been invited to speak ................