Sunday, June 5, 2016

Obama’s Organizing Years, Guiding Others and Finding Himself - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

By SERGE KOVALESKI, New York Times (2008)

Image from article, with caption: Barack Obama at the Developing Communities Project, 2008

[JB note: above-cited article worth reading in full; see also "Three days, 64 people shot, six of them dead: Memorial Day on the streets [of Chicago], and the violence that has engulfed families and neighborhoods," New York Times (June 4, 2016); "Hawaii has lowest gun death rate in the nation, new analysis finds," (2015)]

Chicago image from above-cited June 4, 2016 NTY article
Mr. Obama’s three-­year stretch as a [Chicago] grass­roots organizer has figured prominently, if not profoundly, in his own narrative of his life. Campaigning in Iowa, Mr. Obama called it “the best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard Law School,” an education that he said was “seared into my brain.” He devoted about one­-third of the 442 pages in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” to chronicling that Chicago organizing period. ...
When he ran for the Senate in 2004, Mr. Obama told members of the
community organization that had employed him that “when I left to go to law school, I couldn’t tell exactly whether I had gotten more out of this than the people I was working with.”
During that time, Mr. Obama found a home at the center of the country after spending most of his first 23 years in Hawaii and Indonesia. He also both lived and worked extensively for the first time in an African-­American community. At a very local level he learned to bring people together around causes and to mobilize them with his words. ...

image from
For Mr. Obama, who had been drawn to Chicago by the recent election of Harold Washington as the city’s first black mayor, perhaps the greatest benefit of his time on the streets of the South Side was coming to terms with his place in black America.
“All of a sudden Barack finds himself in one of the most complex African-American communities in the United States and he discovers an energizing capacity to connect with the people in these neighborhoods,” said Gregory Galluzzo, a community organizer who worked with Mr. Obama. ...

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