With the establishment of the period when the nation would celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, no one could have anticipated the possibility that one day that period would converge with the date when a “first black president” would be turning over executive power after serving two terms. But in just a few days Barack Hussein Obama will conclude an ironic but historic chapter in the ongoing story of this strange and dangerous place called the United States of America.
The overlap of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the constitutionally mandated turnover of power by the nation’s first black president serves as an analogy for the contradictory politics of race, representation, and power in the first white supremacist nation-state in human history.
Dr. King contributed to the creation of the black mass-movement for democratic and human rights that were presumably granted after the end of the civil war and then denied for another hundred years. Barack Obama, on the other hand, cynically manipulated the perception that his presidency was the natural and logical result of the black movements of the 60s and 70s, while in actuality they represented two different and competing narratives of black existence in the U.S.
For me, nothing symbolizes the gulf between the meaning and politics of Dr. King and Barack Obama more than an incident in Atlanta that I wrote about a few years ago. Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s special advisor and personal friend,…