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2010 - 95th Annual Convention Words: 346 words || 
1. Wiggan, Greg. "First Black Presidents, Barack Obama and the Political Economy: A Comparative Analysis with Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, Sep 29, 2010 <Not Available>. 2020-02-18 <>
Publication Type: Individual Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The issue of racial and ethnic equality has posed one of the most enduring challenges in the history of the United States. During the nineteenth-century, Frederick Douglass emerged as one of the most important black leaders and abolitionist. Douglass, a towering intellectual who was admired and supported by many white Americans, devoted his life to improving race relations and the social conditions of African Americans. However, in spite of Douglass’ work, racial and ethnic Apartheid persisted in the United States and this was most evident to non-whites. At the turn of the twentieth-century, W. E. B. Du Bois argued that the “problem of the color line” was the most serious threat to the notion of an American democracy. During this time, Booker T. Washington succeeded Frederick Douglass and was symbolically anointed as the “first President of black America,” an honor bestowed upon him by mainstream press, northern philanthropic foundations, many white Americans and even some African Americans. During the early twentieth-century, Washington, the politician, educator, strategist and “black President;” was the most important black leader in America. Although at times he was misunderstood and often forced into compromising decision-making, as “President,” Washington used his popularity, power and resources to create new opportunities for African Americans. This paper proposes that a century later, the historicity surrounding the Presidency of Barack Obama, is both a continuation and a culmination of the work done by previous generations and historic black leaders. It further argues that Obama’s presidency symbolically reflects how far the nation has come in improving racial and ethnic relations, and how much more work it needs to accomplish. The paper explores the lives and contributions of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and Barack Obama in relation to the political economy. While synthesizing and contrasting the work of these three popular black figures, the findings reveal social and political strategies and contradictions, as each leader, particularity Washington and Obama; attempt to simultaneously improve race relations and the democratic process at home and abroad; while meeting the expectations of special interest groups and while preserving the hegemonic capitalist empire.

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