An Assessment of the Obama Presidency

Published: January 8th, 2016

Category: News

In 2008, Barack Hussein Obama became the first African American president of the United States and was reelected in 2012.  President Obama will leave office in January 2017.  The African American Studies Program will sponsor a two-day symposium, “An Assessment of the Obama Presidency,” that will allow for a critical analysis of President’s Obama’s experiences, successes, and failures in office.  In particular, the presentations below will allow UF students, staff, and faculty to assess the benefits, of the lack thereof, Americans have received from the Obama presidency.  This symposium will take place on February 17 and 18, 2016 at the University of Florida.  It will include the following lectures:

  • On Wednesday February 17th at 6pm in the Ocora of Pugh Hall, Professor Michael Jeffries, Associate Professor of American Studies at Wellesley College, will discuss his book, Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America (Stanford University Press, 2013). Professor Jeffries received a doctorate in African American Studies with an emphasis in Sociology from Harvard University.  Professor Jeffries primarily studies the sociology of race and ethnicity, identity and politics, and popular culture. His book examines issues such as the impact of President Obama’s biracial heritage on the public perceptions of him, the belief that we now live in a “post-racial society” because of his victories, and perceptions Americans have of first lady Michelle Obama.  For information on Professor Michael Jeffries, see
  • On Thursday, February 18th in the Ocora of Pugh Hall, Professor Fredrick Harris, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center on African American Politics and Society, will give the annual Dr. Ronald Foreman lecture at 6pm. Each year, the African American Studies Program invites a scholar of African American Studies to give this lecture in honor of the program’s first director.  Professor Harris conducts research on racial and ethnic political participation, social movements, and religion and politics; however, his primary specialization is African American politics. He has written three award winning books, Something Within: Religion in African-American Political Activism (Oxford University Press, 1999), Countervailing Forces in African-American Civic Activism,1973-1994 (Cambridge University Press 2006), and Beyond Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in a Post Racist Era (Russell Sage Foundation, 2013).  When delivering the Foreman lecture, he will discuss his book, The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Fall of Black Politics (Oxford University, 2012).  In this book, Harris discusses the experiences of candidates Shirley Chisolm and Jesse Jackson when running for president during the 1970s and 1980s.  He also discusses President Obama’s deracialized campaign platforms and the almost universal support he received from black voters.  He primarily questions whether African Americans have received the kind of substantive benefits they should have received from President Obama or whether he has taken their votes for granted.  For more information on Professor Harris, see:

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