Saying Goodbye to the Obamas is Hard to Do.

December 22, 2016

Like many people, the end of the year is a time when I take stock of my career, my goals and how I’m feeling about my life in general.  And as I reflect upon the final days of 2016, I am happy to be healthy and spending another holiday season with family and loved ones, but I’m also a little saddened that this will be the last Christmas we celebrate with the Obamas in the White House.  And while the Obamas may have used the office of the presidency to change the world, the pressures of the outside world didn’t change them.  The Obamas stayed true to their selves, true to their roots.  They may have lived in the Whitehouse but they kept their black identity—whether it was Barack going falsetto to sing Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, or Michelle dancing to Uptown Funk on Ellen.  Without a doubt, the Obamas brought soul to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.


And through their sparkling example, the Obamas taught disadvantaged young people to reach for the stars—that anything is possible if you work hard enough and stay true to your convictions.

Eight years truly goes by in the blink of an eye, but in that time we got to witness something very special: We got to see a young, gifted black man, with his beautiful, accomplished wife at his side, lead and transform the country in remarkable ways that benefitted millions of Americans.

Obama’s critics will always try to rewrite history, but we must never forget the trying circumstances under which he entered office—with an ailing financial sector, high unemployment and an economy teetering on the brink of collapse.  Today, because of his policies, we are in far better shape; we have a booming stock market that’s approaching 20,000, strong GDP and more than ten million new jobs added.  And because of Barack Obama, 20 million more people have healthcare. Clearly, the brother did some work!


Michelle was not the President, but she redefined the term “boss lady.” She more than lived up to the role of First Lady—bringing the issue of child obesity into the spotlight, and emerging as a powerful speaker and advocate for progressive causes.

Invisible Jump Rope

Not only did Barack and Michelle do good work, but they did it with class and dignity—even while being subjected to vicious personal attacks.  But not once did they stoop to the level of their angry, ranting and racist detractors.  As Michelle famously said, “when they go low, we go high!”

But more than just competently doing their jobs, the Obamas showed America what we rarely see on television or in the movies—a classy, highly educated black couple deeply in love. We got to see them gazing into each other eyes while dancing at the inaugural ball.  Countless times in public we saw them hold hands and exchange tender touches of affection.  We got to see them work as a team, as equals, he needing her as much as she needed him.  And, most incredibly, we got to watch them raise two beautiful, intelligent daughters—all while living inside a Washington fishbowl.

Saying goodbye to a person or thing that we love is always difficult, but we can take solace in the following words of wisdom: “Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.”


Areva Martin: Today’s Voice On Issues That Matter

Areva Martin represents the victims of Section 14


While promoting an image of Hollywood luxury in the 1950s and 1960s, the City of Palm Springs’ racially restrictive covenants prohibited Black people from sharing that good life or living in white neighborhoods. Instead, Black and Mexican Americans could only build homes in the Section 14 area of the Agua Caliente tribe’s reservation. Then, over a 10-year span from the late 1950s through the 1960s, Palm Springs hatched a plan to demolish Section 14 for the purposes of developing it into more lucrative commercial enterprises. To gain possession of this prime downtown real estate, the city hired contractors to bulldoze the privately-owned houses, often with personal property and belongings inside, and then the city sent the Palm Springs Fire Department to burn the destruction.  Black and Mexican residents were often forced to flee Section 14 with only what they could carry.

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