Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Has the “Talented Tenth” already arrived with Obama or is it still a “dream deferred”?

By Michele Battle-Fisher, Graduate Research Associate at the Kirwan Institute

I, along with many citizens, listened with great anticipation to hear President Obama’s speech to the combined Congressional assembly on February 24, 2009. His eloquence was apparent, but I had another issue in mind. How can others in the black community find venues to voice concerns to such a captive audience as he? Perhaps if WEB Dubois were still with us today, he would shout to the rafters “the talented tenth has arisen!” The idea of the “Talented Tenth” espouses that there will be a select number of leaders of color who will serve as the rhetors of the black nation.

They will be articulate.
They will have the best education offered and the capacity to think and express.
They will be given the credibility by others to assume such a position.
Historic election- check.

But though I was moved by the President’s words, I was most moved by the young black student who wrote her letter to Congress and was given a hero’s greeting while sitting next to the First Lady. Poised with the nation’s eyes upon her, she simply asked the legislators that she should no longer be deemed invisible. She, like many other young people, seek hope for a better future but sadly realize that grave injustices still exist that can deter that dream. Yes, she simply asks for parity without the worries of substandard social conditions that could get in her way. I wish her the opportunity to assume her role as a “rhetor” for young people of color, a role she never would have imagined when she penned her letter. This is if she accepts that challenge.

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