Singers, Sportspeople and actors paved the way for Obama

Could Obama have had the Presidency without them?

Could Obama have had the Presidency without them?

Almost everybody took a double-take when Jim Brown, the foot-baller and actor, kissed the then hot property Raquel Welch in 100 Rifles, a movie that also starred Burt Reynolds. .This writer is almost sure that that was the first interracial kiss on screen. That was 40 years ago in 1969. It marked the subtle tolerance manifesting itself in the American psyche. Those were the days when Nat King Cole's songs were lapped up by WASP but the practical life was starkly different. He could never hope to get accommodated in prominent hotels.

School children had been segregated on racial line, buses had separate sections but screen actors were making their marks in mainstream movies. To Sir with Love and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner which had Sydney Poiter were daring movies for those times, especially the later. Spencer Tracy's monologue towards the end of the movie brought tears not only to Catharine Houton's and Catharine Hepburn's eyes but many in the movie halls across the world could be seen to be surreptiously wiping their tears. The movie told in no uncertain terms that pigmentation is only skin deep and does not have a bearing on human feelings. This movie, in my opinion, bridged the racial divide more than anything those days. Writer William Rose and director Stanley Kramer, both of whom are dead now, could possibly take credit for bringing the two races a little bit closer, no mean achievement when you juxtapose it with all the other parameters in vogue then.

The current crop of actors like Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Morgan Freeman command as much respect as a white Gene Hackman or a Latino Robert deNiro. Their movies are seen just for their screen presence and acting prowess as is a Clint Eastwood or a Bruce Willis one. And, they get paid equally lucratively or even more. Look where Hall Berry is! Right up there with the bevy of very white Bond girls.

In the beginning of 19th century and until 1940s, racial divide brought forth basketball teams exclusively for whites and blacks and the black teams came under the umbrella nomenclature Black Five. This too had changed with times. The example of Michael Jordan will suffice to illustrate the telling impact the black sportsmen have had on national sports scene. If 1936 Olympics decimated Hitler's absurd notion of Aryan Supremacy when Jesse Owens made him bite the dust, the Americans in general were forced grudgingly to accept that the black sportspeople played no small part in sprucing up their national pride, winning a slew of medals in a variety of sports disciplines. It is now black people who routinely stand alone in athletics around the world.

More than the actors and sportspeople perhaps, it is the singers who broke new grounds in inculcating racial tolerance. Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley and a lot of others gained icon status and sold records in millions and fans went crazy on sighting them. Stating the obvious always brings forth a yawn but this article has to state it, nevertheless. Michael Jackson beat them all. Beat every sportsman, actor and singer of black origin in bringing the two races together.

The times were ripe for a change in the US. Everyone, including possibly Barbara and Laura Bush was just tired of Bush and his ways. The nation wanted change. CHANGE. The first change they wanted was the party at the helm, enough of GOP! So, Democrats it was going to be. When the Democratic Party was inching towards a change, it soon dawned on them that the change was to be monumental in its scope and audacious in construction.

All those people in sports and entertainment were not really part of an American's personal life, touching on their needs and aspirations. but to have a Black (a Mulatto really but let it go) as their head of State and for all purposes, head of free world was a mind-boggling thought.

This is where all those path-breaking men and women in those assorted professions as illustrated before came in hand. Every American was prepared in advance for the change by them. The ground work had been done by those people. Unwittingly, of course! They could not possibly have imagined that they were doing their mite in advancing the probability of a black man becoming the president of America.

Though Obama had all the qualification to try his hand at the presidency, it was not his efforts alone that made it possible. The cumulative result of various people over the years that made it possible. It was a case of a right man at right time and right place. Obama came up exactly with what the Americans wanted. CHANGE! And, the Americans changed! Changed themselves and the world. Forever.


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