Seeking a presidential ‘pawtograph’: Letters from America’s kids to the first dogs, Sunny and Bo

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Barack Obama ’ sulfur watershed 2008 election and the presidency that followed profoundly altered the aesthetics of american democracy, transforming the Founding Fathers ’ narrow vision of politics and citizenship into something more expansive and more elegant. The american presidency suddenly looked very unlike, and for a moment America felt unlike, besides .
The Obama victory helped fulfill one of the bang-up ambitions of the civil rights struggle by showcasing the ability of inordinately talented black Americans to lead and excel in all facets of american life. First lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Sasha and Malia, extended this reimagining of black american life sentence by providing a blatant imagination of a healthy, love and booming african american english family that defies still-prevalent racist stereotypes .
But some represent Obama ’ s victory as much more .

SLUG: NA/OBAMA DATE: 10/31/08 CREDIT: Linda Davidson / staff/ The Washington Post LOCATION: Wicker Memorial Park, Gary, IN SUMMARY: Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama holds a rally in Gary, IN. PICTURED: Members of the crowd respond to Obama as he makes his way down the ropeline. Some seek to shake his hand, others want to touch his head, some just want a hug. StaffPhoto imported to Merlin on Fri Oct 31 23:06:03 2008
Members of the crowd in Gary, Ind., seek to shake the campaigner ‘s bridge player or touch his question as he thanks them for their confirm in October 2008. ( Linda Davidson/The Washington Post )

The victory was heralded as the arrival of a “ post-racial ” America, one in which the state ’ s original sine of racial slavery and post-Reconstruction Jim Crow discrimination had last been absolved by the election of a black man as commanding officer in chief. For a while, the nation basked in a racially harmonious afterglow .
A black president would influence generations of young children to embrace a new imagination of american citizenship. The “ Obama Coalition ” of african American, white, Latino, asian American and native american voters had helped usher in an era in which institutional racism and permeant inequality would fade as Americans embraced the nation ’ s multicultural predict .
From the archives
Obama makes history
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois was elected the nation ’ s 44th president of the united states yesterday, riding a message of hope and exchange to become the first african American to ascend to the White House .
Seven years later, such profound optimism seems misplaced. Almost immediately, the Obama presidency unleashed racial furies that have merely multiplied over time. From the tea party ’ s racially tinge attacks on the president ’ sulfur policy agenda to the “ birther ” movement ’ s more overtly racist fantasies asserting that Obama was not even an american english citizen, the national racial climate grew more, and not less, fraught .

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: NOVEMBER 6 -- President Barack Obama is re-elected to office in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
President Obama is feted in Chicago on Nov. 6, 2012, the night he is elected to his second gear term as commander in head. ( Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post )
If racial conflict, in the form of birthers, tea partyers and gnawing resentments, implicitly shadowed Obama ’ s first condition, it erupted into open war during much of his second. The Supreme Court ’ randomness 2013 decision in the Shelby v. Holder case gutted Voting Rights Act enforcement, throwing into question the sign accomplishment of the civil rights movement ’ mho heroic verse period .
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Beginning with the 2012 shooting death of black adolescent Trayvon Martin in Florida, the state reopened an intense argue on the continue horror of institutional racism evidenced by a chain of high-profile deaths of black men, women, boys and girls at the hands of jurisprudence enforcement .
The organized demonstrations, protests and shock of a new generation of civil rights activists turned the hashtag # BlackLivesMatter into the clarion call for a new social judge movement. Black Lives Matter activists have forcefully argued that the U.S. criminal justice arrangement represents a gateway to racial oppression, one marked by a drug war that disproportionately targets, punishes and warehouses young men and women of semblance. In her bestselling book “ The New Jim Crow, ” legal learner Michelle Alexander argued that mass captivity represents a racial caste system that echoes the permeant, morphologic inequality of a system of racial apartheid that persists .

DENVER, COLORADO: OCTOBER 24 -- A fan hugs President Barack Obama as he works the rope line following a rally at City Park in Denver, Colorado, on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
A garter embrace President Obama as he works the rope course following a rally in Denver in October 2012. ( Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post )

Obama ’ s first-term caution on race matters was punctured by his controversial remarks that patrol “ acted stupidly ” in the mistake identity catch of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University ’ s outstanding african american studies professor, in 2009. Four years former he entered the rupture once more by proclaiming that if he had a son, “ he ’ d attend like Trayvon. ”
In the consequence of racial agitation in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, and a racially motivate massacre in Charleston, S.C., Obama went far. In 2015, Obama found his voice in a series of stirring speeches in Selma, Ala., and Charleston, where he acknowledged America ’ sulfur farseeing and continuous history of racial injustice .
Policy-wise Obama has launched a private beneficent campaign, My Brother ’ s Keeper, designed to assist low-income black boys, and became the first president to visit a federal prison in a call for prison reform that foreshadowed the administration ’ s efforts to release union inmates facing long sentences on relatively minor drug charges .
Despite these efforts, many of Obama ’ randomness african american english supporters have expressed profound disappointment over the president of the united states ’ s refusal to forcefully pursue racial and economic judge policies for his most loyal political constituency .
From this perspective, the Obama presidency has played out as a barbarous jest on members of the african American community who, despite providing indispensable votes, critical documentation and unstinting loyalty, find themselves largely shut out from the nation ’ s post-Great Recession economic recovery. Blacks have, critics suggested, traded aside substantial policy demands for the largely emblematic psychological and emotional victory of having a black president of the united states and first family in the White House for eight years .
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From the archives
Obama struggles to balance African Americans’ hopes with country’s as a whole
well before he became the nation ’ randomness first black president, he was already weighing that identity in his judgment .
Others find that assessment harsh, noting that Obama ’ s most impressive policy achievements have received light promotion from the White House or citation in the mainstream media .
History will decide the full meter of the importance, success, failures and shortcomings of the Obama presidency. With involve to race, Obama ’ s historical significance is ensured ; lone his impact and bequest are up for debate. In review, the burden of transforming America ’ mho tortured racial history in two four-year presidential terms proved impossible, even as its promise helped to catapult Obama to the nation ’ second highest function .

DES MOINES, IOWA: NOVEMBER 5 -- President Barack Obama wraps up his campaign with a final stop in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, November 5, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
President Obama wraps up his political campaign with a concluding stop in downtown Des Moines on Nov. 5, 2012. ( Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post )
Obama ’ s presidency elides important aspects of the civil rights struggle, particularly the teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King, for a clock time, served as the racial judge consciousness for two presidents — John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Many who hoped Obama might be able to serve both roles — as president of the united states and racial justice advocate — have been disappointed. Yet there is a apocalyptic clarity in that disappointment, proving that Obama is not King or Frederick Douglass, but Abraham Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson. even a black president of the united states, possibly specially a black president, could not untangle racism ’ south Gordian knot on the body politic. Yet in acknowledging the limitations of Obama ’ randomness presidency on healing racial divisions and the shortcomings of his policies in uplift black America, we may reach a newfound political adulthood that recognizes that no one person — no matter how powerful — can single-handed rectify structures of inequality constructed over centuries.

Peniel Joseph is professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

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