Barack Obama may be the first black president of the United States of America, but his presidency has not solved or eased longstanding racial tensions in this country.
That according to Arizona State University history professor Matthew Whitaker, who said in a speech Friday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that America is at a “fork in the road” regarding social justice and equal rights.
The balance favors those who put Obama in office, he said.
He cited the coalition of the population who elected Obama, and said they are not going to slow down, but will grow in number and influence.
As a result, Whitaker called Obama the “architect of the new America” in regard to the future of politics.
Whitaker’s address, titled “Race and Region in the Age of Obama” launched by recalling Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which the scholar described as warm, touching and relatable. But he told his audience that it was also meant to challenge imperialism and militarism.
The ASU professor commented that many have a new vision of race relations as a result of Obama’s election, but Whitaker suggested improvement of race relations in America has not been achieved under Obama.
He said African Americans are still not free, but progress and equality in some measure can be seen.
As a historian, Whitaker said that through the Founding Father’s study and readings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, revolutionary values eluded people of color, women, and the unwanted.
A vision of equality eventually exploded, he said, as a result of these values in 1861 at the start of the Civil War.
After the Civil War, a new kind of resistance to people of color led to what Whitaker described as “virtual slavery” at the turn of the century, to which it would take another century before this began to change.
Professor Whitaker claims that Obama’s election signifies that change in society, calling the electorate an “astringent” because they bring to the surface the imperfections in the American society.
The event was hosted by the University of Arizona Africana Studies Program, in which they described the address as a “provocative discussion” regarding the need for interracial alliances and activism to promote progress in social justice and race relations.
Whitaker is also the author of “Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama.”
College Fix contributor Katie Jones is a student at the University of Arizona.