Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog
Yes We Can—
Ever since the notorious mid-term elections, much of the nation has been fixated on President Obama’s alleged shortcomings and the lack of government to get anything accomplished. Even when things were blatantly out of his control, the President was forced to take heat for Republican filibustering and politicians who were only concerned with advancing their own careers and platforms. But with the historic passage of three very distinct measures, our first African American President has silenced the naysayers and proven once again that victory is ours.
Just recently, Black and Native American farmers finally received a semblance of justice after over a decade long discriminatory suit filed against the USDA was settled and the money set to be awarded. Only after President Obama signed this extraordinary bill were these farmers awarded some $4.5 billion that will amount to about $50,000 to each individual. After systematic bias in the dissemination of federal loans and other beneficial programs, the government began to rectify a grave inequality that unfortunately cost many farmers their land and livelihood throughout the years. We must not easily dismiss the idea that after years of stalling, it was Barack Obama’s signature that allowed the bill to see the light of day, and allowed our farmers to pass the baton to the next generation.
Last week, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to witness another monumental moment and another triumph in this President’s corner. Despite weeks of wrangling and criticism from both the left and right sides of the aisle, Obama was able to pass an extension of tax cuts for all Americans, as well as the integral extension of unemployment benefits for millions of workers scheduled to lose theirs by the end of the month. Even in a lame-duck session of Congress, our Commander-in-Chief proved that diligence and an unyielding dedication to serve the nation will always deliver results. In the face of vicious attacks and vitriol from every angle, and despite his own opposition to certain aspects of the deal, the President did what was best for the nation as a whole, and what was best for the millions who were struggling to simply put food on their tables this Holiday season.
And on Saturday, those who wish to continue progressing our nation and those that seek to end institutionalized, bigoted mechanisms witnessed a milestone when the controversial ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was finally repealed. Long regarded as a biased way of discharging openly gay members of our military, DADT as it is called is no more, and the military can no longer deliberately discriminate against this segment of the population that is ready and willing to sacrifice it all in the name of upholding our values. This was a campaign promise that the President has once again delivered, and one that closes the door on an ugly and antiquated law.
In the past, Presidents were primarily given the benefit of the doubt. Even when they blatantly lied to the people and drummed up false ideas for engaging in war, our media barely questioned them or their decisions. But for some reason, whenever our 44th even attempts to pass important legislation, or save millions from dire poverty, everyone openly questions his ability and motives. The last few weeks were a milestone in terms of remarkable legislation and a continued push towards progress. And though some may try to dismiss these achievements, we must not allow them to pull the wool over our eyes.
President Obama: yes we can, and as you so aptly proved – yes we will.