Tag Archive | "President Barack Obama"

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President Obama Lifts Bans on Cuba


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In a move that has been hailed as historic, President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed an executive order to “re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba.”

The move to thaw the relationship with this communist country comes after months of secret talks between the Obama administration and Cuban officials in Canada and the Vatican. Talks culminated with a 45-minute conversation on Tuesday between Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, which detailed ways the United States would end 53 years of enmity that has caused disagreement in the Caribbean basin. Fidel Castro was not involved in these discussions, officials said.

Obama had to forgo Congress. Only Congress, which imposed sanctions on Cuba in 1961, can dismantle them completely. So the president’s move was mostly a symbolic but powerful one, according to a White House official on background call before Obama’s live speech. This move represents the most significant changes to America’s Cuba policy in more than 50 years, a White House official said.

“These are the steps that I can take to change these policies,” Obama said in his televised speech from the East Room, emphasizing the limits of his unilateral move to help the U.S. “normalize relations” with Cuba.

Unresolved disputes remain, however. Cubans urged for an end of the U.S. pro-democracy programs in Cuba, which they see as a subversive attempt to overthrow Castro. The White House stood firm on those demands, refusing to disrupt that policy.

Obama’s executive order bodes well for Cuba’s economy because Cuba agreed to release political prisoners, including “a very frail” Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor who U.S. officials said was wrongfully imprisoned. The order now allows travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba.

Former Florida Governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, challenged Obama’s move toward Cuba, saying to USA Today: “I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship.”

Bush has  favorable ratings in  large Cuban-American constituencies in Florida.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban American, said he would do all he can as the incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to block Obama’s plan.

While politicos plan to make moves in Congress, most Americans will now be able to travel to Cuba. Previously, there was a ban on all travel to Cuba. Now, government officials and academicians can travel there.

“With the changes I’m announcing today, it will be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, and Americans will be able to use American credit and debit cards on the island,”  Obama said.

Other benefits to Americans in this move also allows Cuban Americans to travel and send remittances to their family, US embassies will now be in Cuba, and easier trade relations.

Travel for tourist activities are still banned.

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Cuba and the release of American Alan Gross, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Protest Erupts After Grand Jury Acquits Police for Killing Michael Brown


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

The nation is reacting to a  St. Louis County grand jury’s verdict after they refuse to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager.

The jury said that 28-year-old Darren Wilson will not be indicted for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown with six shots in an August confrontation, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch said lateMonday night.

In Washington, President Barack Obama called for peaceful protests.

“We need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction,” Obama said. “But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.”

As protesters took to the streets in Ferguson, The Hartford Guardian encourages readers across the country to  on Twitter.

According to reports, crowds of protesters filled streets near the Ferguson police station following the announcement. And police car and stores were set on fire, other stores were looted, gunfire was heard and bricks were hurled. Police said they had been fired on and responded with smoke bombs and pepper spray before using tear gas.

Police later said they came under heavy automatic weapon fire, and some buildings were left to burn because of the danger. County police said an officer suffered a gunshot wound, but it was unclear if it was because of the protest violence.

Protests sprang up in cities from New York to Los Angeles and remained mostly peaceful. At least half a dozen commercial airline flights into St. Louis were diverted out of concerns about the unrest.

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In Wake of Obama’s Executive Action, Advocates Warn About Scams


By New America Media

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday his plan to take executive action on immigration. His plan would revise enforcement priorities to focus on recent arrivals and those who had committed serious crimes. It would expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and create a new deferred action program for parents of U.S.-citizen or legal-permanent-resident children who have lived in the country for more than five years. It would also revise the legal immigration system, with a special focus on science, technology and entrepreneurs.

There is no new application available yet, however, and advocates are warning immigrants to stay tuned to trusted media sources and community groups to get accurate information.

Any time immigration reform is in the news, advocates warn, immigrant families are vulnerable to scam artists and unscrupulous individuals who promise to help them in exchange for a fee.

Earlier this year, NAM reported that the San Francisco District Attorney’s office had seen a spike in immigration fraud cases in 2013, prompting it to launch a multilingual campaign to educate immigrant families about how to avoid scams.

NAM found that some people were seeking immigration advice from unqualified individuals, and that translation issues were contributing to the confusion.

For example, in most Latin American countries the term “notario” means lawyer. But in the United States, a notary just means someone who is licensed by the state to witness and sign documents.

“Notaries can’t represent a person in court, they can’t assist them in a formal legal process; they can only fill out forms. But anyone can fill out a form,” said Diana Otero, coordinator of the immigration program at Catholic Charities of San Mateo. She says immigrants need to get help from attorneys or qualified people that know how to deal with the immigration process.

Vanessa Sandoval, program director with Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN) in San Jose, offered this advice to undocumented immigrants who go to notaries to complete immigration work. She spoke with Maria Antonieta Mejia.

Why aren’t notaries a good alternative to immigration attorneys?

They do not have a degree to practice law and they do not have the legal right to offer those services. What they are doing is taking money from people offering services they are not qualified to perform. The result, in many cases, is deportation.

How do you determine whether someone is qualified to help with immigration work?

In the United States, practicing attorneys – those licensed by the American Bar Association or the State Bar Association – and non-profit organizations certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals have the right to offer legal services. No one else.

What recourse is there for victims of immigration fraud?

The first thing to do is report the person to the proper authorities. There are dedicated attorneys at the DA’s office focused on investigating fraud cases. You can also report that notary directly to Immigration or file a civil suit.

Where should immigrants look first for help?

Start with non-profit organizations. In San Jose, there are more than seven organizations certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals that offer this type of service. If an organization does not have the capacity to help, it can offer recommendations for private attorneys.

For more information about SIREN, please visit siren-bayarea.org.

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Some People Need to Get a Clue About the Minimum Wage


By Ann- Marie Adams

Remember those ‘Hey Mon’ skits on the 1990s comedy show, In Living Color?

Keenen Ivory Wayans and others created a sketch that is now etched in our collective memory: a hard-working Jamaican family where each member had more than two jobs. The over-the-top skit was hilarious.

Recently, I watched those skits again. Minutes into a 4-minute skit, I stopped laughing. That’s because I realized the family  had mostly Dr_AnnMarie_Adamsminimum-wage jobs: valet, bus boy, waiter, cook, waitress, hostess, deliveryman, laundry woman among others. Indeed, the harsh reality emerged through the laughter: they had to work multiple  jobs because one low-paying job couldn’t pay the bills for a family of four. It was a luxury for most immigrants and other working-class Americans to have just one job. In 2014, many more Americans are faced with the same—and some would argue a more acute—scenario.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionOn March 5, President Barack Obama will visit New Britain to push the Democrats’ plan to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Several New England governors, namely Connecticut’s Dannel P. Malloy, Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick, Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee and Vermont’s Peter Shumlin will gather to discuss “the importance of raising the minimum wage and giving a hardworking Americans the raise they deserve,” according to a White House press release.

They event will be held at Central Connecticut State University’s William Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain, where the president will deliver his remarks.

Republicans balked at the idea of increasing the minimum wage, saying it would cause job cutbacks. That twisted logic is interesting—to say the least. According to their argument, the federal government can’t afford to raise the minimum wage because businesses would prefer to have their employees figure out a way to live on less than $400 a week as they work 40 hours or more to barely survive in the richest country on earth.

This may be obvious to some of us already on earth; but I feel that it is necessary for someone to tell these people that the proposed $10.10 an hour, which amounts to about $404 a week, still wouldn’t be able to pay an individual’s rent and light bill in a city such as Hartford, where a decent one-bedroom apartment is about $850. The current minimum wage in Connecticut is $8.50. So many struggling full-time workers sometimes opt for a food bank or welfare to get by in this economy.

I’m not quite sure why Republicans in Congress decided to take a hard stance on the minimum wage—since they abhor the idea of increasing the welfare rolls. Recently, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal opined during a governor’s association meeting at the White House that Obama “seems to be waving the white flag of surrender on the economy by focusing on raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25.”

I’m still trying to figure out what the heck that means. I don’t think Americans and the world can take any more idiocy before spring.

Most Americans have now tuned out the politically tinged bickering leading up to the 2014 election because we want to hear sensible discussions about how this country will address problems faced by a third of the country’s 316 million people. About 30 percent of the U.S. population lives below or barely above the poverty line, which is mainly caused by structural inequality. According the reports, 55 percent of minimum wage earners are women. And about 20 percent are over 60.

Some people no longer have the option of having more than one job like Wayans illustrated in the 1990s comedy sketch. The country is still emerging from the Great Recession, which produced a sizable number of unemployed and long-termed unemployed people—still looking for just one job. If they do get a minimum wage job, they should at least be able to pay thier rent and light bill.

For those who want to use up airtime to defend the current federal or state minimum wages below $10, I say this: Let’s leave the nonsense out of this debate. Or get a clue.

Dr. Ann-Marie Adams is the founder and editor of The Hartford Guardian. Follow her at @annmarieadams.

Photo courtesy of dailykos.com

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Government Shuts Down, Obamacare Begins Today


Updated Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 4: 54 p.m.

By Ann Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — More than 7,000 Connecticut workers will not be paid because of a government shut down early Tuesday morning.

The partial government shut down at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1 comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill reached an impasse over the Affordable Care Act, scheduled to launch today.

Connecticut Congressional delegation said this move by House Republicans was “a cavalier willingness to shut down the government for pure political posturing.”

In a video released by the White House early Tuesday, President Barack Obama said: “Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility. It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again.”

This is the first partial government shutdown in 17 years. And historically, marginalized communities are likely to the feel the brunt of damage caused by a shutdown.

Although federal workers will not be paid as a result of this halt to federal operations, essential employees will still work, and about 2,000 Armed Service workers will get paid.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today released the following statement, calling on House Republicans to stop thier obstruction and pass a resolution that funds the government and increases the debt ceiling.

“This morning, House Republicans failed to meet a most basic responsibility of a member of Congress: to fund the government operations and programs that they themselves have authorized.  Consequently, the federal government has shut down and the American people are suffering the consequences.  So, now, citizens of Connecticut who work for the federal government will not be paid,  federal contractors will be laid off, new loans to Connecticut small businesses won’t be made, and the list goes on and on.  As much as we can, the state will work to mitigate the disruption caused by this wanton act of ideological excess,” Malloy said.

Malloy joined other  governors and sent a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders, saying that  House Republicans “would be wise heed our call made on behalf of all Americans.”

Some Republicans say Obamacare will bankrupt the country. Opponents of Obamacare said the healthcare law would result in “more Americans under the control of Wall Street.”

healthcarereform Because of the lapse in federal government appropriations, most federal services such as IRS and Social Security Administration will be closed. And only a “skeletal staff” will be at the White House on Tuesday. White House and Congressional aides will be on furlough.

Congressman John B. Larson released the following statement after House Republicans on Monday voted to send a Continuing Resolution that threatens healthcare for millions  of Americans to the U.S. Senate with less than four hours left to avoid a federal government shut down:

“I am disappointed tonight that House Republican leadership continues to play hostage politics with our economy and move towards a government shutdown. It is truly a shame that our economic certainty has taken a back seat to ideology.”

The Small Business Administration announced it will be closed until further notices. All upcoming events, webinars and meetings have been cancelled.  And during this time, the District Office will not be able to respond to requests.

Connecticut officials will, however, proceed with the launch of Affordable Care Act, known also as Obamacare. The government-run health exchange will allow the state’s 35,000 uninsured residents, most of whom are people of color, to begin enrollment—if they so desire. Coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014.

Obamacare was signed into law on March 23, 2010.  The shut down was a Republican tactic used to force President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate to delay or defund parts of the law. Tea Party Republicans voted 44 times to repeal the law.

However, these moves did not stop the process, which will unfold today in an effort to make insurance available for most uninsured people in America. The digital ribbon cutting for the insurance marketplace today allows Americans to shop for insurance online.

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President Obama Signs Law to Restore Lower Student Loan Rates


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Calling it a “sensible and reasonable approach” to student loans, President Barack Obama on Friday signed a bill into law that would make it more bearable to borrow student loans.

Flanked by Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Oval Office, Obama praised the compromise to tackling the soaring student loan debt of $1 trillion and then cautioned that “our job is not done.”

The Obama administration theorizes that this law is a “good compromise” for all students through the 2015 academic year.

“Feels good signing bills. I haven’t done this in a while,” Obama said, alluding to the difficulty he’s faced getting Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House, to approve his legislative priorities, such as gun control and budget deals.

“Hint, hint,” he added to laughter.

Without this new law, the rates on new subsidized Stafford loans would remain doubled at 6.8. There was an increase on  July 1 when Congress couldn’t agree on how to keep rates at the previous 3.4 percent.

But not everyone was happy. While Connecticut’s House delegation all voted to approve the House version of the student loan bill, Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal defiantly opposed the bill, saying they were concerned about the eventual increase in rates that would make it unaffordable.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said the bill’s  is not the end of the issue. She said she is looking forward to when Congress modifies the program again before there is another hike in the  interest rates.

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama signs the bipartisan bill to cut student loan interest rates, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The bill has been awaiting Obama’s signature since earlier this month, when the House gave it final congressional approval after a drawn-out process to reach a compromise in the Senate.

Related News:

Obama Signs Student Loan Deal, Says Job Isn’t Done

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte Etier Central Connecticut State University

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President Barack Obama to Visit University of Hartford


HARTFORD — President Barack Obama is coming to University of Hartford next Monday.

According toh White House officials, he will visit a campus that is contiguous with the capital city of Hartford and will be a move to help celebrate Wednesday’s historic passage of a “xxs gun control law in ConnecticutThe White House announced the event in a statement Tuesday:

“On Monday, April 8, President Obama will travel to the University of Hartford where he will continue asking the American people to join him in calling on Congress to pass common-sense measures to reduce gun violence. Additional details on the President’s event at the University of Hartford will be forthcoming.”

This would be Obama’s second trip since the tragic shooting on Dec. 14 in Newtown, CT.

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Racial Attitudes Playing Large Role in 2012 Presidential Vote


By Molly McElroy, Contributor

A fter the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, many proclaimed that the country had entered a post-racial era in which race was no longer an issue. However, a new large-scale study shows that racial attitudes have already played a substantial role in 2012, during the Republican primaries. They may play an even larger role in this year’s presidential election.

The study, led by psychologists at the University of Washington, shows that between January and April 2012 eligible voters who favored whites over Blacks – either consciously or unconsciously — also favored Repub­lican candidates relative to Barack Obama.

“People were saying that with Obama’s election race became a dead issue, but that’s not at all the case,” said lead investigator Anthony Greenwald, a UW psychology professor.

The study’s findings mean that many white and non-white voters, even those who don’t believe they tend to favor whites over Blacks, might vote against Obama because of his race. These voters could cite the economy or other reasons, but a contributing cause could nevertheless be their conscious or unconscious racial attitudes.

“Our findings may indicate that many of those who expressed egalitarian attitudes by voting for Obama in 2008 and credited themselves with having ‘done the right thing’ then are now letting other considerations prevail,” said collaborator Mahzarin Banaji, a psychology professor at Harvard University.

In the study, a majority of White eligible voters showed a pattern labeled “automatic white preference” on a widely used measure of unconscious race bias. Previous studies indicate that close to 75 percent of White Americans show this implicit bias.

In a study done just prior to the 2008 presidential election, Greenwald and colleagues found that race attitudes played a role in predicting votes for the Republican candidate John McCain.

The 2012 data, collected from nearly 15,000 voters, show that race was again a significant factor in candidate preferences.

In an online survey, Greenwald asked survey-takers about their political beliefs, how “warmly” they felt toward Black and white people, and which presidential contender they preferred. Because the survey was conducted in the first four months of 2012, it included the five main Republican hopefuls – Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum – as well as Obama.

Greenwald also measured unconscious race attitude using the Implicit Association Test, a tool he developed more than a decade ago to gauge thoughts that people don’t realize they have. Different variations of the test measure implicit attitudes about race, gender, sexuality, ethnicities and other topics.

Greenwald found that favoritism for Republican candidates was predicted by respondents’ racial attitudes, both their self-reported views and their implicit biases measured by the IAT. Greenwald emphasized that the study’s finding that some candidates are more attractive to voters with pro-White racial attitudes does not mean that those candidates are racist.

“The study’s findings raise an interesting question: After nearly four years of having an African-American president in the White House, why do race attitudes continue to have a role in electoral politics?” Greenwald said.

He suspects that Obama’s power as president in 2012, compared with his lesser status as candidate in 2008, may have “brought out race-based antagonism that had less reason to be activated in 2008.”

Another possibility is that Republican candidates’ assertions that their most important goal is to remove Obama from the presidency “may have strong appeal to those who have latent racial motivation,” Greenwald said.

Greenwald and his research team will continue to collect people’s attitudes about the 2012 presidential candidates as part of their Decision 2012 IAT study. Now that Mitt Romney has emerged as the presumptive Republican nominee, the researchers are modifying their survey to focus on voters’ comparisons of Romney

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Danger Signs for President Obama with Black Voters


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In quick succession, two brightly lit danger signs burst on President Obama’s reelection road. The first was the recent Washington Post/ABC poll showing that nearly as many African-Americans say they are displeased with Obama’s performance as those who approve. The prime reason for the discontent is jobs, or lack thereof, in black communities.

The jobless rate has hit crisis levels in many inner-city communities, and the perception is that the president simply isn’t saying and doing enough to combat the crisis.

The criticism is not fair given the absolute refusal of congressional Republicans and more than a few Democrats to kick out another penny for job stimulus and training programs. He has also had to beat back every effort by the same forces determined to hack, slash, and vaporize any spending on education and infrastructure spending. Nonetheless, the perception is still that Obama hasn’t done enough on the black-jobs front, and that hurts.

The second danger sign is that Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, co-chair of he Congressional Black Caucus, flatly called the debt ceiling deal “a sugar coated Satan sandwich.”

Caucus members of been displeased with the president’s compromise and conciliation with the GOP to get a debt ceiling deal. But the comments by Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, raised the inevitable question of whether there is a deeper meaning — that many black legislative officials are hearing the grumbles and feeling the heat from more blacks about Obama’s perceived failure to take more aggressive action to deal with black needs?

The Caucus has straddled the fine line between extreme care not to say and do anything that will give any more ammunition to Obama’s sworn enemies to attack him on policy questions. Certainly, they have not wanted to feed any public impression that their support (and that of black voters for Obama) has in any way diminished.

But the other side of that fine line is the crisis of black joblessness, compounded by an exploding wealth gap between black and white households that is as high as it’s been in modern times.
The expectation driven by mounting desperation is that Obama must take off the wraps and mount a frontal assault on the problems of the black poor.

But that bumps squarely up against the political reality that the GOP, Congress, and a divided Democratic Party has severely restricted his already tightly constricted political maneuverability. Those constraints have come just when he had to jump start new initiatives and programs to tackle the jobless plight of black males and the disproportionate number of blacks in home foreclosure, as well as spend more to combat failing inner-city public schools, curtail black homelessness and push criminal-justice reform.

The criticisms of Obama’s perceived failings have hit the mark with some blacks.
But criticism means little when no matter how badly some blacks think Obama has performed in confronting urban problems — and for being too willing to make nice with the GOP — they forget to consider this question: If not Obama, who?

It’s beyond absurd to even suggest any of the pack of GOP presidential contenders as any kind of alternative to Obama. For the past half-century, blacks have given every Democratic presidential candidate and president an unflagging 80 to 90 percent of their vote. This will not change in 2012, whether Obama is the Democrat presidential contender or not.

Even if some blacks, out of frustration or dislike for Obama, were tempted to look elsewhere, the GOP contenders have made it clear in word and deed they will mount a full assault on every program and initiative on health care, education, infrastructure investment and federal spending on job creation.
Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, as well as education, labor and civil rights protections will also be under attack. Few black voters are prepared to commit political suicide to back anyone that will do that.

The fall off in Obama’s approval ratings among some black voters is no surprise. The expectation that Obama could whipsaw a GOP that has dug in its heels and opposed any and every program and initiative on Obama’s legislative table — not to mention for him to wage an open sustained battle for black needs — was always a fantasy.

But it’s no fantasy that despite the danger signs in the criticisms and disappointment of many blacks, Obama is the only thing that stands between the GOP and their total economic and political ruin.


Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

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Obama in Ireland: Uplifting—and Shrewd


By Michael H. Cottman, Contributor

Say this about President Barack Obama: He’s a shrewd politician who is making the most of his multi-cultural heritage and perhaps even solidifying early support among white voters heading into the 2012 presidential campaign.

Take Obama’s trip to Ireland, for example, where this week the president celebrated his Irish roots and visited the tiny village of Moneygall – the home of his great, great, great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1850.

One writer called Obama America’s first black-Irish president.

“My name is Barack Obama – of the Moneygall Obamas,” Obama told a crowd in Dublin, “and I’ve come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way.”

Obama, ever the skilled political strategist, never misses an opportunity to court voters, no matter how far away from the United States he travels.

But in Moneygall, population 300, while shaking hands with his Irish ancestors, Obama and his political team were probably thinking about the millions of Iris- American voters here in the United States, many of whom are still trying to decide if Obama deserves a second term in the White House.

It was the pre-campaign portion of Obama’s trip to Ireland, reminding Irish voters in America that he has an ancestral connection to their country and build on the good will when he returns home.

This week, Obama embraced the white side of his family. His mother was white and his father Kenyan. As a multi-cultural president, Obama can claim he’s the president for all Americans because, in fact, he embodies a multi-cultural society.

“It was nice to see the president welcomed so warmly by the Irish in Ireland,” Joan Walsh wrote for Salon.com. “Obama also referenced the ‘unlikely friendship’ between Ireland’s ‘Great Liberator’ Daniel O’Connell and American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave.”

Obama didn’t forget his black roots. In fact, the president made a point of putting his visit to Ireland into historical and racial perspective by evoking the name of his hero, Douglass, who Obama greatly admired. In a speech to a crowd in Dublin, the president connected Ireland with Douglass and the slave trade.

“When we strove to blot out the stain of slavery and advance the rights of man, we found common cause with your struggles against oppression,” Obama said. “Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and our great abolitionist, forged an unlikely friendship right here in Dublin with your great liberator, Daniel O’Connell. His time here, Frederick Douglass said, defined him not as a color but as a man. And it strengthened the non-violent campaign he would return home to wage.”

The Irish Times reported that Nettie Douglass, great-great-granddaughter of Douglass, recently laid a wreath at O’Connell’s crypt in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery with her son at her side. Frederick Douglass had travelled to Ireland and England in order to publicize the release of his autobiography, “Narrative of a Life of an American Slave.”

Obama publicly revered Douglass, who became the face of the abolitionist movement in the years leading up to the Civil War. Douglass, like Obama, was a man born of mixed heritage. His mother was an African-American slave and his father was white – perhaps a slave owner. Douglass, like Obama, was a gifted orator, offered a voice for those who were underserved, had a vision for a post-racial America and spoke passionately about social justice.

When Obama steps back on American soil next week, he’ll return to a country where the black unemployment rate is soaring toward 16 percent and his most vocal black critic, Princeton University professor Cornel West, will probably be lying in wait to continue his verbal assault on Obama in an attempt to discredit America’s first black president.

Leading the nation from the Oval Office, Obama will experience a myriad of challenges in the months ahead and confront many political foes – even those who are black. But while Obama faces adversity, it’s refreshing to know he will likely draw on the wisdom of Frederick Douglass, a black freedom fighter, like Obama, who understood the power of uplifting people

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