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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Obama Making History

With the election of the first African American president in one of the most historic elections in America’s history, the University of Massachusetts Boston discussed the issue in an open symposium entitled ‘Changing History: A Panel Discussion of the 2008 Election’ on November 7, 2008.

Presented by the William Monroe Trotter Institute, the discussion on the issue of change and the election was led by the Trotter Institute’s Director, Barbara Lewis.

“Now that we have an African American first family, do African Americans become more human in the eyes of the public,” Lewis hypothetically asked the crowd. “Nothing is unalloyed. But change, a giant step forward taken against the odds is a cause for celebration by everyone. We got together and did something good for ourselves, for our children and for that good early American ideal, posterity, those babies not yet born.”

Other Panelists at the symposium included political science professor Paul Watanabe, American Studies in Latino Studies professor Marisol Negron, Associate Director of the William Joiner Center for Veterans Affairs Paul Camacho, labor historian and author James Green, Interim Provost Winston Langley, and UMass Boston students Kelli Strong, Mario Rosado, and Denis Bogere.

Watanabe discussed out how Barack Obama’s victory in the election does not define the nation’s views as nearly half of the U.S. population had voted for John McCain. He then described young adults as the voters of the future.

Negron discussed the significance of the Latino vote and how Obama’s victory was a move towards census building, also noting that voters who are democratic now would more likely remain democratic in their future vote.

Camacho moved the discussion towards specific issues concerning foreign policy and the war in Iraq, and said that he sees an Obama presidency as an opportunity to change the entire game plan of U.S. politics.

Rosado, a student who comes from an underprivileged background, said he was personally affected by the election and victory of Obama.

“African American children were told that they could be anyone except [the President],” Rosado said. “Now, any child can be told and possibility became the President of the United States. However, at the end of the day, [Obama] is still a politician and we the people must push him to speak for us. We have to band together to produce results,” said Rosado.

Strong, an honors student, said she was particularly concerned about the choice of Palin as McCain’s running mate and how the GOP had attempted to attract Hillary supporters.

“What concerned me was how the GOP expected Palin to appeal to Hillary supporters. What was there to like,” she asked. “There was nothing similar between the two.”

Strong also argued against voting on the basis of race and gender.

“Four years is not enough, but it is enough for Obama to lead the country in a new direction,” Strong said. “The election of Obama was progressive. Voting in terms of merely race or gender is not”.

As Americans band together as a nation, in the eyes of other nations, America has entered twenty-first century, Barbara Lewis said. The election of Barack Obama is not only historical but also groundbreaking in every aspect of American politics and life, she added.

“A gulf opened between yesterday and today,” Lewis said. “The moment of change for us, the instant when we acted, when we stepped into the Brave New World of today and tomorrow happened ritually for us all on November 4, 2008.”