All posts tagged: President Barack Obama

From the Bookshelf

The world’s landscape has shifted. Two books came off my “to be read” pile this month, and both focused on a theme as current as the day’s headlines. The more substantive is a deep analysis of the 2008 financial crisis and how early decisions made in the midst of the Great Recession still affect us today.  The other, a charming novel set in a luxury hotel in Moscow, takes the reader from the upheaval of the Russian Revolution through the mid-1950s.  President Barack Obama and Count Alexander Rostov, main characters in fact and fiction respectively, nonetheless face similar challenges when their world shifts underneath them. A Crisis Wasted:  Beginning in 2008 through at least 2009, the United States faced the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression.  With the Bush Administration transitioning out of power, President Barack Obama and his administration took on the lion’s share of the work to address this challenge, often while battling opposing forces in both political parties.  That the United States survived without falling into national and worldwide chaos …

The Power of Words

Former President Obama’s recent summer reading list reminded me of how much I pick up fresh insights from seeing what books others recommend.  When I finish several months’ worth of reading, I’ll pass along my takes on those works to anyone who cares to listen, simply because I believe in the power of the written word.  Writer Cheryl Strayed said she was seven years old when she understood that, as Margaret Atwood wrote in her poem Spelling,  “a word after a word after a word is power.” According to Strayed, the power of those words she read at age seven, “wasn’t the sort of power we associate with politics or world affairs . . . It wasn’t the kind of power we talk about when we talk about destruction or physical force. It wasn’t about defeat or domination or control. It was about a deeper, older, truer sort of power, one that calls upon the original meaning of the word, which is derived from the Latin posse.  It means, quite simply, to be able. It’s …

Nothing Can be Changed Until it is Faced

Last week, President Obama named the A.G. Gaston Motel (a National Trust National Treasure), the 16th Street Baptist Church (site of a bomb attack in 1963 that killed four young girls), and other places near them as part of the new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.  Made on the eve of celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the president’s designation was a good reminder of the importance of why we protect places that tell difficult stories from our past. A few weeks ago I finished reading a powerful book that harkened back to the work and writings of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a work that demands a response from the reader and is not easily dismissed. In the book’s foreword, Cornel West alludes to the link between Alexander’s work and Dr. King’s core beliefs.  King called for us to be “lovestruck with each other, not colorblind toward each other. To be lovestruck is to care, to have …

God Works in Mysterious Ways

We’ve all heard the saying, “God Works in Mysterious Ways.”  A tired trope, right?  Not in the hands of President Obama, who gave it fresh and meaningful power in his moving eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney of Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston.  And not in light of the events of the last seven days. “God Works in Mysterious Ways” was just one of literally dozens of memorable phrases and comments that arose during this most remarkable of weeks. Our part of the world cracked open a door to examine some of its deepest wounds and also saw change for millions who have been denied life’s basic liberties and access to a safe and civil society. While that change is far from complete, let’s take the time to observe (in this next installment of Observations from Home) just what took place over the last seven days since I wrote about the horrific murders at Mother Emanuel. A Powerful Reflection on Grace – For almost forty minutes in Charleston, Barack Obama reflected on race and the …

Places That Look Ordinary Are Nothing But Extraordinary

I don’t often mix my work into More to Come…. But then again, I don’t often hear the President speak so eloquently about the work with which I’m engaged.  Last Thursday was one of those days. After 24 hours in my own house, I was on the road once again to Chicago last week.  Cold. Frigid. Windy. Chicago.  It wasn’t a destination I would have sought out in February, except for the fact that President Barack Obama was going to designate Pullman a National Monument.  At the National Trust, we were part of a coalition working for this designation, and I was proud to join our team at the celebration. These types of events with government and political leaders are often perfunctory – at least from the politician’s standpoint.  Last Thursday – with the President on his home turf – was anything but.  You knew we were in for a treat when his opening remarks began with this ode to Chicago’s winter: “It’s always been a dream of mine to be the first President to …