Overtures to the Obamas

Avis Thomas-Lester, Washington Post, February 9, 2009


In a town where networking has been developed to a fine art, black Washington is clamoring for the Obamas. The election of the first black president is seen by many African Americans as their chance to finally sit at the table. {snip}


Thomas (D-Ward 5) said he sent a letter to Obama on Friday asking him to play in a golf tournament June 5 to 9 at Langston Legacy Golf Course, which was chartered by Congress 70 years ago to provide blacks a place to play.


“He’s one of the first big-city presidents, so he understands the urban environment, which I represent,” he said. “The connection between him and communities like mine is great. .&nsbp;. . He’s one of us.”


“Since they are African American and Washington, D.C., is a predominantly black city, there are a host of black churches,” he [Anthony Hawkins, administrator of Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Northwest Washington] said. “It would be a feather in one’s cap to have them worshiping with you.”


“The very presence of the Obamas is a breath of fresh air for the civic life of black D.C.,” Dyson added. “He was a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, spent 20 years in an identifiably black church and cut his teeth on black civic [involvement].”

Dyson added that a natural outcome of Obama’s involvement in the black community would be that blacks in Washington would “seek to further nurture and engage” him and his family.

For African American professionals, the connection extends further. The president is a well-educated black man married to a well-educated black woman, both working to raise two children while holding demanding jobs.

Charisse Carney-Nunes, 41, a co-founder of Sistermoms, a D.C.-based support group for African American mothers and their families, said she had planned to reach out to Michelle Obama when her husband was elected to the U.S. Senate. But Michelle Obama and the children did not relocate to Washington. Now, she said, she wants to offer her a chance to bond with other local black mothers.

Carney-Nunes, the mother of two children and author of the children’s book “I Am Barack Obama,” which tries to inspire children through Obama’s success, said the organization’s leadership is planning to invite the first lady to its annual Mother’s Day tea.



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