The Untold Story of the Obama Era: The Necessity of Race and Gender in Politics

Led by Michael Blake – Thursdays at 4:00 PM in FDR


From the beginning of the 2008 Presidential campaign to the upcoming conclusion of the Obama administration, the emergence of people of color, millennials and women as “The Obama Coalition” has transformed elections and governing forever.  Fortunately, it was a priority for President Obama to ensure this organizing occurred, but, the inner workings of how to achieve this success have not been widely shared to make the progress sustainable.  Given the changing demographics and new policy platforms from these groups, creating and sustaining a strategy that focuses on race and gender in both of these arenas is not optional; it is a necessity for success.  As we approach this historic 2016 Presidential election and prepare for the future legacy of President Barack Obama, what is the story to be told of the “Obama coalition”? How did we get here? How did it happen? Where we go from here in the era that this country has never seen before:  The time after a Black President.

September 22

How Did We Get Here? Where Are We Going?

The day after President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, a remarkable moment occurred that will shape future organizing forever.  What was it? How did it impact us? What is the data showing us about the NECESSITY for diverse coalitions? From the Obama playlist to unforgettable words he said to me at a legislator briefing, how may my personal story of being trained by then Senator Obama to then working for President Obama to being elected to office myself while he is still President provide context on the impact of the Obama era on the next generation of politics? How do we begin to tell the story for the next generation of organizers of color?

September 29

Obama to Clinton to Trump. Different Approaches, Different Coalitions

We continue to hear about the Obama coalition of communities of color, young people and women.  But, have we taken a deep dive of the strategy and needed coalition for a Clinton or Trump victory and who are the voices to lead that charge?  Let’s dive in on who and HOW!

Guest Speaker
Omarosa - Director of African-American Outreach from the Trump Campaign

October 6

The Media

The faces and voices of media from Television to Twitter in the Obama era have completely turned political organizing on its head.  That paradigm shift is because of visionary voices who created a culture shift so that faces of color were seen and respected in ways that had not occurred prior to the Obama Presidency.  Who helped create this sea change in how we see ourselves and how society sees communities of color?

Guest Speaker
Van Jones – CNN Commentator & Former White House Aide to President Obama. President and Co-Founder of Dream Corps

October 13

National & International Policy: Minority & Women Owned Business Enterprises and their Economic and Social Impact Domestically and Internationally

By 2050, people of color will be the majority in the United States.  In order for communities to be transformed, economic development and wealth creation in communities of color must be transformed.  How do the politics of empowering leaders of color lead to igniting the economic shift in our communities?  Who are the voices and names changing the game?

Guest Speaker
Alejandra Castillo – National Director, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), U.S. Department of Commerce

October 20

Local Elections and Policies Matter

We are in the midst of five campaign cycles that will change perspectives forever.  From 2008 to 2016, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in how communities of color impact elections at all levels of government.  Who are the voices of change that have transformed how these diverse coalitions register to vote, persuaded to support a candidate and then how to actually get them to vote?

The Honorable Julissa Ferreras-Copeland – New York City Councilwoman and Chair of the NY Council Committee on Finance (First Woman and First Person of Color to Hold this Position). Ferreras-Copeland Oversees a Budget of $82.2 Billion

October 27

Music, Arts & Culture – Impact on Politics and Communities

After the campaign is the after party, I mean, governing!  What policy changes emerge for communities of color because of political victories?  Who are the people who went from being advocates for the community to advocating for the President to help the community? Have policies and livelihoods for communities of color truly changed because of President Obama? What’s next?

D.J. D Nice– Legendary Hip-Hop DJ & Campaign Surrogate for President Barack Obama

November 3

Criminal & Social Justice

The fact that the phrase #BlackLivesMatter even emerged means that for too many, our lives do not matter.  From “You Lie” being yelled out during a State of The Union to the Tea Party’s emergence, from the protests due to criminal injustice to the Grand Juries, it is clear that a new generation of social justice organizers have emerged in the Obama era.  What are their stories? Are we listening to their voices? What changes emerge in our communities after the cameras are gone?

November 10

Recap of the Election

November 17

Conclusion - Race and Gender are Here to Stay

The era of the Obama coalition has provided the opportunity for a new wave of political agents of color.  Now that we approach a historic election of who will succeed the first Black President in our nation’s history, who will be the ones who take up the mantle of change and continue to tell the untold story of the new color of politics?  What will be the future story?