Archived: 'Presidents' Day' was 'Barack Obama Day' at Morehouse College

Monday’s observation of Presidents’ Day took on new meaning at the campus of Morehouse College, an all-male historically Black college in Atlanta, Ga.

NewsOne hosted its inaugural “Barack Obama Day” at the alma mater of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The day of programming explored the work and legacy of former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president.

“The relationship between our audiences and this president is a complicated and special one,” Jamilah Lemieux, vice president of news and men’s programming at iOne Digital, said in a statement.

“It is our goal to use this holiday as an opportunity to have healthy, nuanced dialogue about his successes, his challenges and what the African American community must do to continue to push for equality in this country.”

The event’s keynote speaker was scholar and author Michael Eric Dyson. Panelists included author Mychal Denzel Smith and cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis; Panama Jackson, co-founder of Very Smart Brothers; writer Rembert Browne; and Joshua DuBois, a former presidential advisor and author; as well as scholars Greg Carr of Howard University and David Wall Rice and Jamila Lyn of Morehouse.

Michaela Angela Davis recalled her first impression of Obama. Davis said she met him at a small reception after an Essence magazine discussion with Black women, which took place shortly following the events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“I shook his hand and the first thing I said was, ‘I love your wife,'” Davis said. “And he said ‘I do, too.'”

She said she wasn’t initially that impressed by him, but “he felt very presidential.” However, her favorable opinion of the former first lady made her more interested in researching and learning fully about Barack Obama’s policies.

“My entry point into the Obama administration was through Michelle [Obama],” she said.

“We hope that Obama Day will continue to grow in the years to come, and that folks will host similar events in their own communities,” said Lemieux.

Black Students United, an upcoming iOne Digital platform, also hosted the event. View an extended video.

Historians Rank Obama 12th Among Former Presidents

C-SPAN released a major survey of 91 presidential historians on Friday. Obama enters a ranking of former presidents in the no. 12 position.

George H.W. Bush was listed at no. 20; Bill Clinton, no. 15; and George W. Bush, no. 33; therefore, Obama ranked the highest of any president since Ronald Reagan, no. 9. Hereceived high marks for public persuasion, equality, managing the economy and “moral authority.”

He was given below-average scores in handling international relations.The list updates previous C-SPAN surveys compiled in 2009 and 2000.

“Once again the Big Three are Lincoln, Washington and FDR as it should be,” a spearhead of the survey, Douglas Brinkley of Rice University in Houston, said in a statement.

“That Obama came in at number 12 his first time out is quite impressive,” Brinkley added.

He also placed ahead of generally well-regarded presidents such as James Monroe and James Polk.

Edna Greene Medford, a Howard University historian and consultant on the survey, said that she expected Obama to be ranked higher.

“Although 12th is a respectable overall ranking, one would have thought that former PresidentObama’s favorable rating when he left office would have translated into a higher ranking in this presidential survey,” Medford said.

“I am especially surprised that he was ranked at 7th in moral authority (despite heading a scandal-free administration); 19th in administrative skills; and 8th ineconomic management (despite having helped to save the auto industry and significantlyreducing unemployment).

“But, of course, historians prefer to view the past from a distance, and only time will reveal his legacy.”

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