In celebration of Black History Month, I want to take a moment to reflect on the presidency of Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States of America. It was a proud moment on January 20th, 2009 when an African American was sworn in to be one of the most powerful men in the world. This was a moment of celebration in the black community, showing the world that discrimination, prejudice, and stereotypes have no place in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Or did they?

During the race for the 2008 election, then Senator Barack Obama (D) and John McCain (R) battled for the presidency. The campaigns progressed like many others before them; however, when Obama took up the presidency, many in this country noted that he only achieved victory because of his winning complexion. It was speculated that if Barack Obama had been a white man, then he would have been ignored by voters and that, in actuality, he was not capable of the task of being the president at all.

I could not disagree more. President Obama was more than qualified to take up the mantle of president. One only needs to look at a few of his three hundred and thirty-five accomplishments (PCTC, 1). Many of these accomplishments deal with allowing the public to know more about what goes on in the White House and in government as a whole. President Obama was the first president to stream every White House event live. This was a fantastic step to making the presidency more transparent. After all, how can we, the American public, knowledgeably vote without completely understanding the duties and responsibilities of the president? How can we understand the qualities needed in our leader without seeing them used firsthand?

The Great Recession and poverty has also been fought by the Obama administration. Taxes were cut of ninety-five percent of the working American families through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The White House Office of Urban Affairs was created to assist in the fight against poverty. President Obama also increased the food stamp program by twenty billion dollars to help provide for those that cannot afford meals. Also, 2014 marked the year where unemployment dropped in every state of the union and the District of Columbia (BLS, 1).

President Obama improved conditions for small business workers, continued to create competition within business, and prevented monopolies. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act protected consumers from unfair credit card practices.

The first black president increased his acts of clemency for drug use prisoners to promote the idea of second chances and avoiding overcrowding prisons with minor offense cases. He also banned solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in federal prison. President Obama also took  action to make guns safer and to improve the background check system.

While these accomplishments were not one powerful man sitting in a corner and making changes, the American public needs to understand that President Obama led us through these changes, supporting them and continuing to make profound speeches to persuade others.

This was the president that was in office when so many exciting events happened in our great nation. LGBT equality continues to surge into the public eye even after the Supreme Court ruling. Gas prices plummeted. Marijuana was legalized in states such as Colorado with the profits going toward education. Osama bin Laden was targeted and killed by Seal Team Six. The American people climbed out of The Great Recession, still proud to be an American even through trials and tribulations.

Every president makes mistakes, because they have human flaws. However, it brings me great joy that this man pulled strength from his heritage to instill a better tomorrow for the citizen of this proud country. As President Obama chooses a new Supreme Court Justice, I know he will choose someone with the experience, perspective, and judgement to join the ranks of the Supreme Court. I look forward to his choice.

Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA

President and CEO