Monday, March 28, 2011

Survey: 2/3 of African Americans Do Not Believe that Barack Obama is a True Civil Rights Leader

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I gave a speech at a church in upstate New York shortly after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.  During the service, the choir director took the liberty of changing the words from the song “We shall overcome,” to “We HAVE overcome.”  I also remember hearing a woman outside the speech proudly announce that she had just bought a new picture of President Barack Obama.  The woman said she was going to put the image right next to her pictures of Martin Luther King and Jesus.  Apparently, Obama’s election was a second-coming of Juneteenth for those who seemed to feel that a black president could do no wrong.

But there is a more fundamental question in all of this:  Should President Obama’s image be placed next to those who’ve fought for Civil Rights in the  past?  In recent survey by, 62.9% of the 734 respondents said they do not consider President Barack Obama to be a true Civil Rights Leader.  Another 28.5% said that they do consider President Obama to be a Civil Rights leader.  The rest claim they aren’t sure.  

According to, Civil Rights are defined as “rights to personal liberty established by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. constitution and certain Congressional acts, especially as applied to an individual or a minority group.”

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