‘We had something’: African Americans look back with pride and pain on Obama’s tenure

By | January 19, 2017

Genevieve Benjamin cried when Barack Obama was elected president. “Now I can die,” Benjamin, 77, said she felt upon seeing an African American elected to the highest office in the land.

Eight years later, over lunch at the Central Area Senior Center, she said: “I’m glad he’s leaving.”

It’s not that Benjamin thinks Obama has done a bad job — quite the contrary. Rather, the retired social worker feels that leaving the White House will liberate the Obama family from ceaseless and sometimes personal attacks.

She noted that detractors have even called the first lady an ape. (“Ape in heels” was the term used by a government-funded West Virginia nonprofit director, subsequently fired.)

“It hurts,” said Benjamin. “It really hurts.”

It was with mixed emotions that a number of African Americans congregating one afternoon at the Seattle senior center — a spacious, low-slung building overlooking Lake Washington — prepared to say goodbye to Obama and hello to a president who has pledged to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy. Many, like Benjamin, said they felt pained by the hostility Obama faced, weighing down the buoyancy of his initial victory. And yet they also spoke with deep pride. (Seattle Times

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