Archive for December, 2008


December 17, 2008




Person of the Year 2008
Why History Can’t Wait

You probably sat in a fancier conference room the last time you refinanced or heard a pitch about life insurance. There’s a table, some off-brand mesh office chairs, a bookcase that looks as if it had been put together with an Allen wrench and instructions in Swedish.

To reach this room, you pass through a cubicle farm lightly populated by quiet young people. Either they have just arrived or they are just leaving, because their desks are almost bare. The place has a vaguely familiar feel to it, this air of transient shabbiness and nondescriptitude. You can’t quite put your finger on it …

“It’s like the set of The Office,” someone offers.


It is here that we find Barack Obama one soul-freezingly cold December day, mentally unpacking the crate of crushing problems — some old, some new, all ugly — that he is about to inherit as the 44th President of the United States. Most of his hours inside the presidential-transition office are spent in this bland and bare-bones room. You would think the President-elect — a guy who draws 100,000 people to a speech in St. Louis, Mo., who raises three-quarters of a billion dollars, who is facing the toughest first year since Franklin Roosevelt’s — might merit a leather chair. Maybe a credenza? A hutch?

But he doesn’t seem to notice. Obama is cheerfully showing his visitors around, gripping the souvenir basketball he received from Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens, explaining a snapshot taken the day he played pickup with the University of North Carolina hoops team. (“They are so big and so fast and so strong, you know.”) Then, since those two items basically exhaust the room’s décor, Obama sits down on one of the mesh chairs and launches into a spoken tour of his world of woes. It’s a mind-boggling journey, although he shows no signs of being boggled — unless you count the increasingly prevalent salt in his salt-and-pepper hair. By now we are all accustomed to that Obi-Wan Kenobi calm, though we may never entirely understand it. In a soothing monotone, he highlights the scariest hairpin turns on his itinerary, the ones that combine difficulty with danger plus a jolt of existential risk. (See pictures of the Civil Rights movement from Emmett Till to Barack Obama.)

“It is not clear that the economy’s bottomed out,” he begins, understatedly. (The morning newspaper trumpets the worst unemployment spike in more than 30 years.) “And so even if we take a whole host of the right steps in terms of the economy, two years from now it may not have fully recovered.” That worries him. Also Afghanistan: “We’re going to have to make a series of not just military but also diplomatic moves that fully enlist Pakistan as an ally in that region, that lessen tensions between India and Pakistan, and then get everybody focused on rooting out militancy in a terrain, a territory, that is very tough — and in an enormous country that is one of the poorest and least developed in the world. So that, I think, is going to be a very tough situation.

“And then the third thing that keeps me up at night is the issue of nuclear proliferation,” Obama continues, sailing on through the horribles. “And then the final thing, just to round out my Happy List, is climate change. All the indicators are that this is happening faster than even the most pessimistic scientists were anticipating a couple of years ago.”

Score that as follows: one imploding economy, one deteriorating war in an impossible region and two versions of Armageddon — the bang of loose nukes and the whimper of environmental collapse. That’s just for starters; we’ll hear the unabridged version shortly.

But first, there is a bit of business to be dealt with, having to do with why you are reading this story in this magazine at this time of the year. It’s unlikely that you were surprised to see Obama’s face on the cover. He has come to dominate the public sphere so completely that it beggars belief to recall that half the people in America had never heard of him two years ago — that even his campaign manager, at the outset, wasn’t sure Obama had what it would take to win the election. He hit the American scene like a thunderclap, upended our politics, shattered decades of conventional wisdom and overcame centuries of the social pecking order. Understandably, you may be thinking Obama is on the cover for these big and flashy reasons: for ushering the country across a momentous symbolic line, for infusing our democracy with a new intensity of participation, for showing the world and ourselves that our most cherished myth — the one about boundless opportunity — has plenty of juice left in it.

But crisis has a way of ushering even great events into the past. As Obama has moved with unprecedented speed to build an Administration that would bolster the confidence of a shaken world, his flash and dazzle have faded into the background. In the waning days of his extraordinary year and on the cusp of his presidency, what now seems most salient about Obama is the opposite of flashy, the antithesis of rhetoric: he gets things done. He is a man about his business — a Mr. Fix It going to Washington. That’s why he’s here and why he doesn’t care about the furniture. We’ve heard fine speechmakers before and read compelling personal narratives. We’ve observed candidates who somehow latch on to just the right issue at just the right moment. Obama was all these when he started his campaign: a talented speaker who had opposed the Iraq war and lived a biography that was all things to all people. But while events undermined those pillars of his candidacy, making Iraq seem less urgent and biography less relevant, Obama has kept on rising. He possesses a rare ability to read the imperatives and possibilities of each new moment and organize himself and others to anticipate change and translate it into opportunity. (See pictures of Obama’s nation of hope.)

The real story of Obama’s year is the steady march of seemingly impossible accomplishments: beating the Clinton machine, organizing previously marginal voters, harnessing the new technologies of democratic engagement, shattering fundraising records, turning previously red states blue — and then waking up the day after his victory to reinvent the presidential-transition process in the face of a potentially dangerous vacuum of leadership. “We always did our best up on the high wire,” says his campaign manager, David Plouffe.

Obama’s competence fills him with a genuine self-confidence. “I’ve got a pretty healthy ego,” he allows. That’s clear when he offers a checklist for voters to use in judging his performance two years from now. It’s quite an agenda. Listen: “Have we helped this economy recover from what is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? Have we instituted financial regulations and rules of the road that assure this kind of crisis doesn’t occur again? Have we created jobs that pay well and allow families to support themselves? Have we made significant progress on reducing the cost of health care and expanding coverage? Have we begun what will probably be a decade-long project to shift America to a new energy economy? Have we begun what may be an even longer project of revitalizing our public-school systems?”

There’s more: “Have we closed down Guantánamo in a responsible way, put a clear end to torture and restored a balance between the demands of our security and our Constitution? Have we rebuilt alliances around the world effectively? Have I drawn down U.S. troops out of Iraq, and have we strengthened our approach in Afghanistan — not just militarily but also diplomatically and in terms of development? And have we been able to reinvigorate international institutions to deal with transnational threats, like climate change, that we can’t solve on our own?”

And: “Outside of specific policy measures, two years from now, I want the American people to be able to say, ‘Government’s not perfect; there are some things Obama does that get on my nerves. But you know what? I feel like the government’s working for me. I feel like it’s accountable. I feel like it’s transparent. I feel that I am well informed about what government actions are being taken. I feel that this is a President and an Administration that admits when it makes mistakes and adapts itself to new information.'”

Can he really achieve all that? Plenty of voters will be happy if he aces only Item 1 on his list. But the essence of both Obama’s strength and his promise is that, according to a recent poll, a strong majority of Americans believe he will accomplish most of what he aims to do. For having the confidence to sketch that kind of future in this gloomy hour and for showing the competence that makes Americans hopeful that he will pull it off, Barack Obama is Time’s Person of the Year for 2008.

I. Simple Competence
In some tellings, Obama’s journey to the white house started with his little-noticed but carefully nuanced speech against the Iraq war in 2002. In other versions, it began with his electrifying address to the Democratic Convention in 2004. Those moments blazed with potential, true, but something more was necessary: a certain appetite among the electorate. The country had to be hungry for the menu he offered, and in that sense, his path’s true beginning lay in the drowned precincts of New Orleans in the sweltering, desperate late summer of 2005.

Hurricane Katrina blew away the last gauzy veil from an ugly specter of executive incompetence in American politics. When the people of New Orleans needed leadership, the Republican Administration in Washington proved useless. The Democratic governor and mayor were pitiful. At long last, our government was united — but under an appalling banner of fecklessness. The moral bankruptcy of the spin doctors was laid bare: no soul remained gullible enough to believe that Brownie was doing a heckuva job.

After Katrina, demand collapsed for the very qualities that Obama lacked as a candidate: empty boasts, finger-pointing, backstabbing and years of experience inside a government that couldn’t deliver bottled water to the stranded citizens of a major U.S. city. Spare us the dead-or-alive bravado, the gates-of-hell bluster, the melodrama of the 3 a.m. phone call. A door swung open for a candidate who would merely stand and deliver. Simple competence — although there’s nothing simple about it, not in today’s intricate, interdependent, interwoven, intensely dangerous world.

His official theme was change, but a specific kind of change: the nuts-and-bolts kind you can see and measure. Voters were invited to believe because Obama kept delivering the goods. Certainly he made mistakes and gave up on some ideas while doubling back on others — his promise to stick to the existing campaign-finance system, for example. On the whole, though, he was a doer. Obama told people that a black man could win white votes. In Iowa he proved it. He said a broad-gauge campaign could win in GOP strongholds; along came Indiana and Virginia and North Carolina. He declared that a new approach to politics would topple the old Clinton-Bush seesaw, and topple it he did. He sank the three-pointer with the cameras rolling. Made a speech in a football stadium feel intimate. Some might say these are not exactly Churchillian achievements, but in the land of the hapless, the competent man is king. In the end, his campaign e-mail list numbered some 13 million people, of whom more than 3.5 million put actual skin in the game — money, volunteer hours or both. Obama’s most formidable opponent, Hillary Clinton, tried to convince voters that he was all talk and no action, a vessel empty but for intoxicating fumes. Yet he was the one whose campaign ran like clockwork, while hers was a fratricidal mess. And by Nov. 4, the strongest party in the U.S. was no longer the Republican Party or the Democratic Party; it was the Obama Party.

II. Filling the Vacuum
“A presidential campaign is like an MRI of the soul,” says David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist. “And one of the great revelations of this process, certainly the most thrilling revelation to me, was to learn what a great manager this guy is. We had no way of knowing that when we started. When he decided to run, we had no political infrastructure at all. There was just a handful of us, and we were setting off to challenge the greatest political operation in the Democratic Party.”

Keep in mind that Obama, as Rudy Giuliani put it at the Republican Convention in September, had “never led anything, nothing, nada” — certainly not a sprawling organization spread from coast to coast. But he did have a philosophy of leadership, which he explains like this: “I don’t think there’s some magic trick here. I think I’ve got a good nose for talent, so I hire really good people. And I’ve got a pretty healthy ego, so I’m not scared of hiring the smartest people, even when they’re smarter than me. And I have a low tolerance of nonsense and turf battles and game-playing, and I send that message very clearly. And so over time, I think, people start trusting each other, and they stay focused on mission, as opposed to personal ambition or grievance. If you’ve got really smart people who are all focused on the same mission, then usually you can get some things done.”

Stop and look back at those last few words, because they are a telltale sign of Obama’s pragmatism. A persistent question during the campaign — it became the heart of John McCain’s message in the closing weeks — was whether Obama was some kind of radical, a terrorist-befriending socialist masquerading as Steady Freddy. As he builds his Administration, though, he is emerging as a leader who just wants to “get some things done.” (Read “The New Liberal Order.”)

Obama is a businesslike boss. He prefers briefing papers tightly written and shows up for meetings fully prepared. He expects people to challenge him when they think he is wrong and to back up their ideas with facts. He’s not a shouter — “Hollering at people isn’t usually that effective,” he explains — but if he thinks you’ve let him down, you’ll know it. “What was always effective with me as a kid — and Michelle and I find it effective with our kids — is just making people feel really guilty,” he says. “Like ‘Boy, I am disappointed in you. I expected so much more.’ And I think people generally want to do the right thing, and if you’re clear to them about what that right thing is, and if they see you doing the right thing, then that gives you some leverage.”

Again, take a second to reread, this time the bit where he says “people generally want to do the right thing.” Trust of this kind has been in short supply for many years in American politics, where the dominant attitude is that every disagreement is a sign of bad faith and every opponent is assumed to be malevolent. Obama’s attitude was ridiculed as kumbaya naiveté during the campaign, but trust proved to be essential to his victory. His campaign entrusted millions of volunteers with unprecedented authority to download information about prospective voters, to assign themselves to make phone calls and canvass their own neighborhoods and apartment buildings, and to keep the campaign abreast of their progress. A typical presidential effort is top-down, intensely protective of its data and strategies. Obama’s approach seemed to court mischief or even chaos. “There was a lot of snickering among the political pros,” says Plouffe. “They couldn’t believe that we were giving people we didn’t know access to our data and trusting them to handle it honestly. But it was enormously important because it made people feel that much more accountable: ‘These are my three blocks, and everyone’s counting on me.'”
Yes, Obama could talk — like nobody’s business — but talk didn’t win the election. According to the daily tracking polls, the tumblers clicked into place precisely at the moment the financial hurricane hit, when the wizards of Wall Street proved as incompetent as Oz and neither the President nor the leaders of Congress nor the Treasury boss nor Senator McCain could deliver a rescue package. When this group failure provoked a stock-market crash in early October, Americans asked, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” Astounding as it would have seemed scant months before, their gaze fell on the one fixed point in the widening gyre: a guy named Barack Hussein Obama. (See pictures of Barack Obama’s family tree.)

III. Fear Itself
As White House Chief of Staff during the final years of the Clinton Administration, John Podesta became accustomed to short nights and emotional roller coasters. Still, he found it a bit strange to be headed to the airport in the predawn darkness of Nov. 5 — just a few hours after the election of a Democratic President. Was Obama really going to chair a major strategy session the morning after winning the longest and most grueling campaign on record? How about a day off?

Long before Election Day, Obama decided that an ordinary transition wouldn’t do. Given the shaky economy and two wars, he knew that the winner of the election — whoever it turned out to be — would face instant and daunting challenges. He wanted to be ready. “What I was absolutely convinced of was that, whether it was me or John McCain, the next President-elect was going to have to move swiftly,” Obama recalls. He deployed Podesta in midsummer to lead an unusually elaborate preparation for a possible Obama presidency. McCain accused him of overconfidence and vanity, of measuring the Oval Office drapes. To Obama, it was simply a matter of prudence. (See pictures from the historic Election Day.)

Podesta had long been planning the return of a Democrat to the White House, and his think tank, the Center for American Progress, was already preparing detailed briefings on conditions in the various departments of government. As the financial system went into free fall in September, Podesta’s team pressed the FBI to work overtime on security screenings of potential Obama nominees. Now, as he boarded a 6 a.m. flight to Chicago, Podesta carried a list of more than 100 candidates who had passed their background investigations and were ready for confirmation on Day One. Instead of taking a day off, the new President-elect celebrated his victory with a five-hour meeting.

Obama had been pondering whether he should step to center stage or wait in the wings as the turbulent last months of the Bush Administration played out. His aides were all over the map. Some advised him to go quietly about his business in Chicago and insist that America has just one President at a time. For Obama to succeed, they argued, the country needed to see his Inauguration as a clean break, a new sunrise. Others floated the idea of immediately starting the First Hundred Days, perhaps asking George W. Bush to appoint Obama’s choices to key offices so that they could get to work by late November.

Obama was leery of appearing to shoulder responsibility for problems before he had any real authority to fix them. Bush’s bank of political capital was busted, and Obama wasn’t about to take ownership of the toxic assets. On the other hand, he didn’t want to repeat the dysfunctional transition of power from Herbert Hoover to Roosevelt in the dark hours of the Great Depression. F.D.R.’s silence between his election and his Inauguration may have deepened the crisis. By 5 p.m. on Nov. 5, when Podesta walked out of that meeting — not 24 hours after the polls closed — Obama was far ahead of the normal transition process, having homed in on finalists for many of his key staff and Cabinet positions. But he hadn’t yet decided how public to be about it.

Within two days, however, events forced his hand. On Friday, Nov. 7, Obama convened a meeting of his economic advisers in Chicago, and the tone of their comments was chilling. The stock market was plunging; credit remained tight; fresh unemployment numbers were shocking. “There was just a very dramatic deterioration” in the days after the election, says Timothy Geithner, Obama’s choice for Treasury Secretary. On previous occasions when the group had gathered, someone could always be counted on to find potential upsides in dismal forecasts, while Paul Volcker, the 81-year-old former chairman of the Federal Reserve, reliably closed each meeting with a gloomy soliloquy. On this day, though, there was no positive scenario for Volcker to deflate. Everyone in the room was grim.

Obama opened the meeting by reflecting on his dilemma: act now or wait until January? By the end of the session, he had concluded that, like it or not, he must “accelerate all of our timetables,” as he put it, “in appointments not just on the Cabinet but also our White House team, in structuring economic plans so that we can start getting them to Congress and hopefully begin work — even before I’m sworn in — on some of our key priorities around the economy, on laying the groundwork for a national-security team that can take the baton in a wartime transition.” There was no time for the “traditional postelection holiday.” Vacations would have to wait until Christmas.

Transition is such a gentle word. We make the transition from youth to adulthood or from the dinner table to the den. For Obama, though, the concept was freighted with danger. “He was very focused on the basic perils of the gap between the election and the Inauguration, at a time when the economy was clearly deteriorating and the markets were very fragile,” Geithner explains. In certain powerful respects, Obama felt compelled to begin his presidency immediately. Markets needed to size up his economic team and hear what he planned to do. Congressional leaders, contemplating a colossal economic-stimulus package, needed to know where he was headed. Military leaders, key allies and opportunistic enemies were all keen to know just how dovish the anti-Iraq-war President intended to be. Obama concluded that hanging back would create a dangerous leadership void in the short-term and compound his troubles come January. And nothing that has happened since that Nov. 7 decision — the crisis at Citigroup, the drama of the automakers or the assault on Mumbai — has made the transfer of power look any less perilous.

He could not have predicted when he set out to become President that he would face such circumstances. The distance from the birth of his campaign to these first days of his fledgling presidency could be counted in months but measured in light-years. When he announced his candidacy on a frigid morning in Springfield, Ill., in 2007, Iraq was a disaster, and the Dow was still headed upward past 14,000. So this moment was a test not only of his speed but also of his flexibility. Obama proved lithe, indeed, persuading Robert Gates, Bush’s Secretary of Defense, to remain in his post and asking Clinton, a constant critic of Obama’s foreign policy views during their primary battle, to be his Secretary of State. Priority 1 was the economic team, however. There his task was to find a mix of people familiar enough to signal stability but fresh enough to promise change, and to design a stimulus strategy dramatic enough to inspire markets to swallow their panic. (See pictures of Obama’s White House team.)

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Obama delivered. Having promised to govern from the middle, he rolled out a bright purple team of economic advisers, neither red nor blue. Geithner had served in various posts under both Bush and Bill Clinton. As president of the New York Fed, he was well known to Wall Street but relatively unknown on Main Street — just the blend of experience and newness that Obama was seeking. His budget director, Peter Orszag, had fans across the political spectrum, and his in-house oracle, Volcker, was a Democrat who fought inflation alongside Ronald Reagan. Larry Summers, named to run the economics team from the White House, was a Clinton stalwart.

Unveiling these and other picks at a series of daily press conferences, Obama assured the public that he wanted to move fast, so fast that trainloads of money might be ready for him to dispatch across the country with a stroke of his pen on Inauguration Day. The idea of another wave of spending horrifies America’s surviving conservatives, but most economists support it — some with enthusiasm, some with resignation. Obama realized that the stimulus package could be a vehicle for launching his broad domestic agenda. His ambitious campaign promises — to reform health care, cut taxes for low- and moderate-income earners and steer the U.S. toward a new energy economy — had seemed doomed by the yawning budget deficit (some $200 billion a month, according to the latest projections). But call these projects “stimulus,” and suddenly a ship headed for the reef of economic disaster might sail through Congress flying the flag of economic recovery. With even Republican economists talking about hundreds of billions in new spending, the sky’s the limit. A dream of health-care reformers — electronic medical records — is now economic stimulus because Obama will pour money into hospitals for computers and clerical workers. His tax cut is stimulus because it puts spending money in the pockets of working Americans. His pledge to repair the nation’s infrastructure is a stimulus plan for construction workers, while his energy strategy is stimulus for the people who will modernize government buildings, update public schools and improve the electrical grid.

Of course, the bullet points are easy to list; far harder is the task of spending vast sums — perhaps $1 trillion over two years — efficiently, effectively and quickly enough to spur the economy. Washington’s three goblins — waste, fraud and abuse — are watching with hungry eyes. Obama has cast Orszag as a flinty keeper of the purse strings, but he has no intention of letting his opportunity go by. “I don’t think that Americans want hubris from their next President,” Obama says, noting that McCain received nearly 47% of the vote last month. However, “I do think that we received a strong mandate for change. And I know that people have said, ‘Well, what does this change word mean? You know that it’s sort of ill defined.’ Actually, we defined it pretty precisely during the campaign, and I’m trying to define it further for people during this transition,” he says. “It means a government that is not ideologically driven. It means a government that is competent. It means a government, most importantly, that is focused day in, day out on the needs and struggles, the hopes and dreams of ordinary people.”

IV. Into the Breach
More than 75 years ago, a new president took the oath of office amid economic catastrophe and admonished the nation that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Today generations of Americans are experiencing a harsh tutorial in the true meaning of that resonant diagnosis. Fear is kryptonite to the economy, which cannot operate efficiently without broad and well-founded confidence — that wise investments will gain value, that balance sheets mean what they say, that contracts will be honored and bills paid.

The events of the past autumn produced the sharpest drop in consumer confidence ever recorded, and a similar wave of fear cratered credit markets. Obama notes the very real structural flaws in the economy, but he is also aware of the role that fear plays. “Nobody trusts other people’s books anymore. And people decide, ‘Well, I’m just going to hold on to my cash for a while,'” he explains. “And that compounds the crisis. And all that results in a contraction in lending, in consumer spending, which then has a real impact on Main Street. And so what starts off as psychological is now very real.”

Just like our banks and our carmakers, America’s shattered confidence is in serious need of a bailout. And the thing about competence is that it nourishes fresh confidence. “Yes, we can” is both an affirmation of optimism and the essential claim of the competent. When the slogan is rooted in a record of accomplishment — when tomorrow’s yes-we-can is backed up by yesterday’s yes-we-did — confidence and competence begin to feed on each other. This virtuous cycle of possibility isn’t the whole of leadership, but it is an important part and perhaps the element most needed in today’s sea of troubles. (See pictures of Obama’s nation of hope.)

After the election, veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart convened one last focus group to ask Virginia voters why a state that gave Bush an 8-point victory four years ago chose Obama by 6 points this time. Their responses clustered around the crucial connection between competence and confidence. They told Hart they were drawn to Obama’s self-assured and calming personality. They felt he was “honest,” a “straight shooter” — in other words, a person who does what he says he will do. Their confidence in Obama wasn’t starry-eyed; they hadn’t been swept away by his stadium speeches. They saw a man who can get some things done, at a time when so many of their leaders, from Pennsylvania Avenue to Wall Street, cannot. He made moderates feel hopeful, and even among many core Republicans who did not ultimately vote for him, Obama inspired admiration. Viewing these comments through the results of his national surveys, Hart discerned a surge of good feeling that he had not seen in a generation: “a sense of real hope,” he says, “and the kind of broad bipartisan support that has not been in evidence since the 1980 Reagan election.”

Obama has begun to turn his thoughts to his Inaugural Address. According to strategist Axelrod, he is looking for the right mixture of bracing and boost in a speech that will be “both sober and hopeful.” He may signal a new day by announcing a plan to stem the foreclosure crisis, which aides say is in the works. As the gray Chicago sky frowns outside his conference-room window, Obama rehearses his message. Americans “should anticipate that 2009 is going to be a tough year,” he says. Then he adds, “If we make some good choices, I’m confident that we can limit some of the damage in 2009. And that in 2010 we can start seeing an upward trajectory on the economy.”

A few days after this interview, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich reminded the country that some aspects of politics will never change. Government is a human enterprise, after all, and Obama, like everyone else, is bound by its limits and subject to human frailty. Nevertheless, if he has shown anything this year, Obama has made it clear that he knows how to write new playbooks and do things in new ways. Which is a compelling quality right now. His arrival on the scene feels like a step into the next century — his genome is global, his mind is innovative, his world is networked, and his spirit is democratic. Perhaps it takes a new face to see the promise in a future that now looks dark. What’s in store for Obama’s America? “I don’t have a crystal ball,” he says. But the measure of his success in menacing times can be found in the number and variety of people who consider the question with eagerness alongside their dread.

—David Von Drehle with reporting by Massimo Calabresi and Michael Duffy / Washington

Person of the Year 2008: Full List
Why History Can’t Wait
The Interview: Person Of the Year Barack Obama
B-Ball with Barack
The Long-Lost Negatives
Why We Chose Obama


December 17, 2008

The 1st National Black Youth Empowerment Expo is the first event of its kind solely dedicated to uplifting African-American children and teens, and encouraging higher levels of youth and community activism.

This two-day event will bring together a broad array of individuals and groups who want to enrich the quality of life and learning for our young generation. Through an appealing and comprehensive variety of youth “art-ivities”, forums, seminars and workshops, we will help to flourish the promise and potential that lives within each of our children. Every child will be empowered to establish goals, be engaged in productive and positive activities, and be inspired by his and her proud history, beautiful heritage and accomplished culture.

The ultimate goal of the 1st National Black Youth Empowerment Expo is that every participating youth take home the inspiration and confidence to believe, achieve and succeed, and be committed to bettering our people and planet.

This event will incorporate the FAME (fashion, art, music & education) model developed by The Better Detroit Youth Movement and UniTee Design, Inc. FAME helps to rally our communities; demonstrate to our children the power and beauty of the many genres of fashion, art and music; and create an “edu-tainment” event that uplifts participants and audience alike. FAME is an effective way to engage children and teens in positive, productive and constructive “art-ivities” that create critical-thinkers, and more disciplined and well-rounded academic achievers.

The educational component of FAME actively supports the development of professional, social and business skills in our children via teen empowerment, rites of passage, health and nutrition topics, and entrepreneurial and professional development curriculums. In fact, a FAME after-school program is now being developed for Detroit high schools.

The Expo has been established for our youth, but created to benefit many others:

* Provides vending, exhibiting and sales opportunities for local businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, artisans and others.

* Provides promotional opportunities for community and youth groups, youth educators, motivational speakers and / or others (to share information, solicit involvement, financial support, volunteerism, etc.).

* Provides promotional and / or sales opportunities for entertainers, fashion designers, models, hair designers and others.

* Helps to educate the general public on ways to support youth activism in each event market and beyond.

WHO: Those of us committed to working together to improve the quality of life and learning for our children and teens. A variety of individuals and groups will have an opportunity and forum to empower our youth at this event:

* Artists and Artisans
* Musicians
* Vocalists
* Comedians
* Entertainers
* Spoken Word Artists
* Performance Artists
* Dancers
* DJs
* Fashion Designers
* Models
* Hair Designers
* Photographers
* Videographers
* Jewelry Makers
* Video Game Developers
* Community Groups
* Youth Educators
* Youth Groups
* Local Businesses
* Community Activists
* Community Leaders
* Politicians
* Media
* And More . . .

WHEN: April, 2009

WHERE: New York City (venue TBD)

WHY: To prove Black America has all the resources necessary to uplift the quality of learning and life for today’s young generation.

HOW: “If We Can Move A Black Man Into The White House, Just Imagine Where We Can Take Our Children!”

If you’d like to be a part of this event, or for more information, please contact R. Lee Gordon at 734.395.3079 or

The 1st National Black TEEN Empowerment Expo Planning Committee Schedule and TasksMonday, March 2, 2009 8:54 AM
From: “” View contact detailsTo: newsletter@uniteedesign.comMessage contains attachmentsNBTEE Program Curriculum.doc (128KB)Good morn and blessings to each of you.

Here’s a top-of-the-week update on the status and schedule of our local and national planning committee meetings:

Last Thursday night, we held a strategic session to prepare for The 1st National Black TEEN Empowerment Expo’s local planning committee meetings.

Individuals representing The Single Parent Resource Center, Medgar Evers College, Safe Horizons, Family Development Association of New York City, Informed Decisions, The Black Economic Advocacy Party, among others, attended this powerful meeting to discuss the NBTEE and its mission and vision, and how the local group could best work together to meet our overall objectives.

Based on the value these good souls are bringing to the NYC community of children, and are now willing to bring to the NBTEE, we should all be very inspired and thankful. Know that I am.

At this meeting, it was determined we will focus our initial energies on reaching out to local youth and community resources to participate and / or promote the event. We’ll also be handling event planning and administration (hospitality, transportation, security, etc.), and coordinating a local business outreach campaign. Fashion, art and music (dance, spoken word, drum, etc.) sub-committees consisting of local and national NBTEE members will create the performance pieces for the expo.

The next local planning committee meeting will take place on March 5th at The Single Parent Resource Center, 228 East 45th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues. Please try to attend.

The national planning committee meetings are held via conference call every Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST. The phone number is 218.339.2500, and the participant access code is 1018464#. Because of the number of good souls on these calls (28, last week) and to make the most of every call, I suggest we follow this protocol: brief introductions (given alphabetically by first name), then, in the same order, each participant will answer these three questions:

1. Are you satisfied with the proposed (updated) curriculum (see attached)?

2. What sub-committees are needed to put forth a seamless, effective event?

3. Who are our “target” teens and why?

Once we’ve covered these topics, we can briefly discuss other matters if needed. We’re working with about five months to plan a successful event so moving forward more expeditiously now is important

Finally, I truly have to personally thank the six of almost 200 of you who took the time to respond to my last email titled “Three Questions and One Request”. While communication is a beautiful thing, I’d strongly suggest better communication is vital to a beautiful future. I’m constantly trying to improve mine.

Our blessings are our children(‘s). Your feedback is always appreciated.

R. Lee Gordon (cell: 734.395.3079) (coming Summer 2009)

“A social entrepreneur (UniTee Design, Inc.), community & youth activism group director (The Better Detroit Youth Movement [501c3]), strategic marketer & community event organizer (The National Black TEEN Empowerment Expo, Inc.), in all I aspire to be, my constant calling is to improve the quality of learning and life for our children so that we build a better future for our people and planet.”



December 4, 2008


Obama’s Greatest Change Could Be in American Family

Sound the alarms, man the barracks, alert the producers! Barack Obama, agent of change, isn’t a-changin’. As the president-elect recycles Clintonistas for Cabinet appointments —- even Hillary for secretary of state and keeping Bush’s defense secretary for at least another year —- conventional wiseguys are wondering: Where’s the change?

Perhaps we’re looking for change in all the wrong places. In other ways, less apparent but of long-term importance, Obama may be the change he promised. Setting aside the obvious —- complete sentences, free of words yet to be discovered —- he is uniquely positioned to change the world on multiple levels.

As Jeff Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe, put it: Obama is a weapon of mass attraction. That attractiveness isn’t just physical, but is a matter of style. No one’s arguing for style over substance. Style isn’t just cosmetic, but has to do with the way one enters and takes a room’s temperature.

Speaking recently at the Ethics and Public Policy Center here about public diplomacy, Gedmin pointed out that George Bush’s “bring ‘em on” cowboy style worked for about half the American people and about 5 percent of the globe. By comparison, he said, Obama’s style resonates with about 90 percent of the world.

Both Gedmin and fellow speaker Kenneth Pollack —- a Persian Gulf expert and author of “A Path Out of the Desert” —- agreed that the messenger, as well as the message, matters. How successfully the U.S. communicates its interests to the rest of the world turns in part on who is delivering the information and how the “sale” is pitched.

“Sale” gets quotation marks because, says Pollack, we need to stop thinking in terms of selling and advertising. Rather, the best marketing tool for “selling” liberal democratic values (much like religious conviction) is by living those values rather than by preaching or trying to impose them.

Sometimes our values and interests intersect; sometimes they don’t. To the extent Obama understands that concept —- and he seems to —- then he is change.

On the domestic front, what does he offer? Again, setting aside specific policies, Obama’s example could have society-altering effects, especially in the African-American community. By his example, he telegraphs the messages: Being smart is good; education is good; being a good father is essential. Being an egghead is cool.

Conservatives insist, correctly, that culture matters. Many liberals think so, too, by the way. Why, some liberals even stay married their entire lives to the same person and raise children to do the same.

You want Ward Cleaver? Meet Barack Obama. Michelle is June Cleaver with a law degree. Family values don’t get any more traditional than the Obamas, who ooze marital bliss and whose adorable daughters make feminist cynics want to bake cookies and learn to smock.

Though we may perish of boredom, the Obamas may do more to elevate the American family than all the pro-marriage initiatives conceived by those who claim to speak for the deity. As a family unit, they’re not significantly different from the Bushes, but they can be an inspiration, particularly to the African-American community.

Despite strides in some areas, the African-American community is the most damaged in our culture, in part because of misguided policies that have decimated the family. Aid to Families With Dependent Children, for instance, was predicated on no-man-in-the-house, sending fathers fleeing from home and parental responsibility. Although other demographic groups are fast catching up, blacks today lead the out-of-wedlock birth rate —- about 70 percent.

Fallout from fatherless homes can be measured in poverty and crime rates. Justice Department figures (2002) show that among males ages 25-29, 12.9 percent of blacks were in prison or jail, compared to 4.3 percent of Hispanics and 1.6 percent of whites.

Bias undoubtedly plays a part in the imbalance (the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity is but one example). But the correlation between absent fathers and crime is well established by decades of social science.

The change we’ve been waiting for may not be immediately quantifiable, but personal responsibility, educational ambition and smart public diplomacy —- all by example rather than exhortation —- could go a long way toward curing what ails us.


December 4, 2008


Wednesday, December 03, 2008
‘Barack Obama Day’ Holiday Created in Alabama County
MARION, Ala. — A small central Alabama county whose mainly black residents gave Barack Obama more than 70 percent of the vote on Election Day has created an annual holiday in honor of the president-elect. The Perry County Commission voted 4 to 1 to observe the second Monday in November as “The Barack Obama Day.” County offices will close and its roughly 40 workers will get a paid holiday.
The sponsoring commissioner, Albert Turner Jr., said the holiday is meant to highlight the Democratic president-elect’s victory as a way to give people faith that difficult goals can be achieved.

The majority of the county’s 12,000 residents are black.

The county commission’s three black members and one of its two white members voted for the resolution.

Commissioner Brett Harrison said Wednesday he voted against the resolution because of the holiday costs to the county, which has a $2.2 million annual payroll and is one of the poorest in the state. He said closing the courthouse would also idle some state employees.

“I’m a Democrat, but just in these financial times, it’s not using the county’s money wisely,” Harrison told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday. “The recognition is certainly well-founded.”

Turner said copies of the resolution, adopted at a Nov. 25 meeting, have been mailed to Obama and his transition team.

An Associated Press exit poll found black voters in Alabama almost universally supported Obama while more than eight in 10 whites backed Republican John McCain. McCain carried the state with 60 percent of the vote.


December 1, 2008

What Africa needs from Obama
Published: Sunday, 30 Nov 2008
WHILE not denying the principal place of providence in the election of the US president-elect Barack Obama, I hasten to note that the events that led to his election November 4, 2008, the election inclusive, were all largely predictable. At an interactive session with the African Security class of cadets at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, late March 2008, the course director, a professor and brigadier-general in the US Army asked pointedly whether one thought Obama was going to win. She actually wanted, she said to members of the class, to be in a position to say after November 4 that a visiting professor from Nigeria made that prediction first in her class. While recoiling from making a pointed statement in that direction, yours sincerely left the class in no doubt that if Hilary Clinton agreed to drop off from the Democratic Party primary early enough, knowing full well that there was by that date no question of her winning the nomination, Obama would coast to an easy victory. As it happened, Clinton dropped off, although not so early, but whatever downside that could have represented was compensated for by the Clintons‘ unequivocal support for Obama soon after Hilary had adjusted to the painful reality that she was not going to be able to go beyond inflicting 18 million cracks on the glass ceiling brooding over the heads of women in US politics. And Obama went ahead to win.

Whoever had any illusions about the very powerful place of race in the US system should at the end of the grueling campaign that Obama had had to go through have been convinced that in the United States, racism is alive and well, the profoundly significance of the election of an African-American November 4 notwithstanding. For but for the fact of race, the distinction between an Obama and a John McCain were so clear that it was a scandal that only a maximum seven-point differential was recorded between the two candidates in the run-up to the election. Were Obama to be a white man, it can be argued, it would have been too clear to everybody that the impending election was not going to be much more than a mere formality as the figures would not have been anything less than 80-20 in favour of Obama, especially soon after McCain committed what perhaps would go down as the most incredible error of judgment in any presidential campaign, his choice of that most unlikely candidate called Sarah Palin as running mate. To perceptive observers, the McCain campaign effectively ended after that choice, the so-called ability of the Alaskan Governor to rally the core conservative base notwithstanding. Her intellectual firepower was just too modest to make the requisite impact on the electoral process in the United States.

Even so, a number of factors combined to ensure that race did not become the dominant force in the election and that in spite of its relative importance; it did not prevent Obama from coasting home to victory. Some of these had to do with the person of Barack Obama himself. Others were due to forces not exactly his own making. First, the fact of the involvement of a woman, of so much accomplishment like Hilary Clinton, somebody the award-winning novelist Maya Angelou described most aptly as ‘some cookie too hard to crack‘, and on the platform of the formidable, indeed fearful Clinton political machine, helped to mainstream the issue of gender and what role it was going to play. That in a way served to reduce the wholesale focus on race that would have been inevitable if a strong female contender had not been involved in the race. The heat, as it were, was shared by the black man and the female Caucasian who on different tracks sought to make history.

Second, the mortgage crisis early in the year in the US had displayed all the features of a major recession in the making. Indeed, in a bold appreciation of the impending crisis, the IMF noted way back in March that the emergent crisis had all the potentials of snowballing into a major global recession within four to 12 months. That precisely was what happened. And it served to make the economy the most important issue to all of 70 per cent of American voters who at any rate had convinced themselves that while McCain was stronger on national defence, Obama looked more like the person that understood the nature of the economic crisis and would be better able to handle it. It was thus obvious by early March that since the economy crisis was not going to go away very quickly, and in the context in which McCain himself, unsolicited, had declared his lack of interest in economics, that important as Iraq could be, a good majority of Americans were going to be influenced to cast their votes by the trend presented by the economy.

Third, Obama‘s background in Africa rather than in the highly divisive civil rights culture of the United States also detracted from the level of discomfort that the average white folk felt towards him. The palpable anger in the real African-American, of slavery origin, is something the white folks would remain uncomfortable with for a long time to come. But Obama has none of this. He therefore came across as the average first generation American, a son of an immigrant the type that massively populates the US from across the world.

To be sure, it had to take an African-American of such origin to accomplish what Obama has achieved. Way back in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1993 at a semi-formal forum of discussants of the African-American condition in the US, one had argued that given the depth of the psychological (and perhaps physical) damage that the system had either wittingly or otherwise visited on the descendants of African slaves in the US, the depth of their anger and doubtful self-confidence consequent upon this experience, it was going to take only an African-American of African (not slavery) origin to make an impact on the US political system. They alone could have the type of confidence (audacity of hope?) that was the bedrock of an audacious act of running for president at the time Obama did.

Note for instance that in spite of all entreaties, Gen. Colin Powell, a man who qualifies to be called an American hero, if one exists, refused to be drawn into the fray in 1994. Not even after all opinion polls had indicated that he alone from the Republican Party could beat President Bill Clinton in the impending election made him change his mind on not contesting. Even after Senator Bob Dole became the candidate, opinion polls suggested that he would win only if Powell agreed to run on his side as VP candidate. The newly retired soldier would have none of it, not even when it was suggested that he could be allowed to combine the position of Vice President with that of the Secretary of State. That is the nature of the trepidation that an African-American of African origin would probably not suffer from.

The good thing about the Obama phenomenon now, as several commentators have noted, is that the African-American community now have a real role model beyond what the rap artists and the sports divas presented. It is therefore a settled matter that Obama the self-confidence of the descendants of African slaves would thenceforth become real players, and no longer on the sidelines, in America‘s highly engaging political system.

A close examination of the Obama and McCain plans on national security, on the economy and other issue areas no doubt reveals the superiority of the former over the latter. But that hardly was the basis of Obama‘s ultimate triumph. Rather, more than any single factor, the man‘s deep understanding of the American political system, including the psychology and political behavioural pattern of the American people accounted for his victory. Of course the place of organisation and access to funds – perhaps the two most critical variables by which electoral victory is determined in climes where voting is consequential – cannot be overemphasised. He understood very clearly Americans‘ distaste for division and campaigned on the basis of rallying everybody – Democrats, Republicans and independents. He provided a platform broad enough to appeal to Americans across this wide spectrum. He knew Americans do not feel comfortable with attacks on opponents. Thus, rather than join the Republicans in what has become a tradition of ‘water-boarding‘, Barack Obama simply took time to point attention to the weakness of the approach in the McCain Campaign. Knowing that the average American voter watches keenly for the slightest evidence of discomposure on the part of their leaders, he maintained a consistency and steadiness that put McCain‘s movement back and forth on the economy in bolder relief.

Obama appreciated the premium Americans place on family values and played the card to the hilt. First, he and Michelle always made a point of demonstrating their closeness. Where McCain would hardly notice the presence of his wife, the Obamas ensured, with the appropriate body language, that they made a point of their closeness. Obama‘s decision to skip campaign and visit his ailing grandma 12 hours away from continental USA in Hawaii was as much an indication of the deep love he had for the woman as it was a clear signal to Americans that this Barack is also a human being too. It was also such a huge statement to the women folk on how highly esteemed women were in his reckoning.

The manner of Obama‘s frontal attack on the race issue, an opportunity for which was provided by his former Pastor, also left Americans wondering for the first time whether there was any sense in the very pivotal place that they had given to the race question for years. He thus was able to use the platform of Pastor Jeremiah Wright to lay the race issue to rest. Rather than deny race and racism as most Americans are wont to do, Barack Obama decided the bigot must be confronted. In his March 18 speech on the subject, undoubtedly the most profound statement and a classic for all time on race relations in the US, the man who would be President reviewed the position of the angry African-American and the concerned Caucasians and concluded that there was no point running away from these realities. Rather, he argued that it behoved on all to confront these prejudices that had served to limit the promise of the American dream to so many.

All said and done, one cannot but note with much admiration the sensitivity of the American people to the opportunity for a national renewal that on Obama Presidency presented them with. That they chose to rise above all prejudice and embraced the definitive agenda of change that Obama espoused is a sure guarantee of the continued global leadership of the United States. A vote for the old ways of looking at issues and the rustic ways of doing things that McCain in spite of his personal goodness and history of service to America represented would have signalled the inevitable and perhaps irreversible downward spiral of US power and global influence. Hesitation at a similar historical juncture at the beginning of the last century, precisely in the period of the Great Depression, on the part of Britain marked the attenuation of British power and influence around the world. The country that prided itself and about which all other peoples were compelled to sing, ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves. Britons never, never shall be slaves!‘ failed to provide the leadership consistent with its history and image. Meanwhile President F.D. Roosevelt‘s New Deal programme was so imaginative and pivotal. It turbo-charged the US economy ahead of all others and sealed US global influence and leadership. It is their weakening hold on the globe that the Americans chose to tighten by embracing what but for Hannah Ardent‘s insistence that a revolution must of necessity be violent, would have qualified to be called the Obama revolution.

Now the question that arises is, having won the election and made history by so doing, what exactly does a President Barack Obama hold in trust for Africa? There is no doubt about the tendency on the part of many of us to assume that Obama‘s roots in Africa is a sure guarantee of a more pro-Africa foreign policy on the part of the US of the post-January 20 era. It would be a surprise indeed if this turns out to be so on the basis of Obama‘s pedigree. The truth is that to all intents and purposes, Obama is an American. His African roots are incidental and are not going to be a huge factor in the attitude of the US to the continent. In his ‘My American Dream‘ published soon after he left the military, General Powell gave vent to the surprise he felt at the elaborate reception he got on his first visit to Jamaica after his appointment as US‘ top soldier. He said he wondered whether his hosts had any illusion that he was anything other than an American, the fact of his roots in Jamaica notwithstanding!

All of these are not to say however that the fortune of Africa will not be better under an Obama Presidency than it was under several contemporary US Presidents. But the source of this optimism is not because of his roots, but because the man has this general orientation that is supportive of the weak and the disadvantaged, something that arguably is a carryover from his mother who married twice in her lifetime to Third World husbands. As we noted at an academic Seminar of the Department of Political Science at Ile-Ife in March, a McCain victory would not have changed the direction of extant US policy towards Africa in any significant way. And while Clinton‘s palpable desire for political correctness would have undercut her government‘s commitment to Africa if she had won, an Obama Presidency promises to be epochal for the continent, but not necessarily because of his African pedigree. If we extrapolate on his profound appreciation of, and courage in articulating the racial challenge that his country faces, a deep passion for the weak and disadvantaged and the higher morality of sharing (remember McCain‘s ‘spreading the wealth‘ charge?) to enhance societal harmony that defined his March 18, 2008, ”We the people, in order to form a more perfect union” address, an Obama presidency should ordinarily rub off well on Africa – a hugely disadvantaged region – in its search for democracy and development.

-Prof. Mimiko is head, Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife


December 1, 2008


Growing Interest in DNA-Based Genetic Testing Among African American with Historic Election of President Elect Barack Obama

African Ancestry Helps A-List Line Up of African American Celebs Join Obama in Knowing their Roots in Africa; RIse of consumer genetic testing coupled with First Black President of African descent spawn trend in African Americans to trace roots to Africa during post-election Holiday season. The excitement of this unprecedented election season coupled with the increase in consumer-based genetic testing has spawned a heightened interest among African Americans

Washington, DC (PRWEB) November 27, 2008 — One thing President-Elect Barack Obama won’t have to grapple with in the Oval Office is his ancestry. He’s one of the few African Americans who actually know exactly where in Africa their African bloodlines began — an experience that remains elusive to many people of African descent in the U.S. African Ancestry, Inc., the company that pioneered DNA-based ancestry tracing for people of African descent, is making it easier and more accurate for African Americans to be like Obama and know their roots this Holiday Season with a specially-priced Holiday DNA-Test Kit at

African American Icons ‘in-the-know’ on African Roots:
In addition to the thousands of families impacted through African Ancestry’s DNA tracing during the past five years, African-American celebrities have also responded to the trend. African Ancestry’s celebrity round-up includes movie stars and musical artists to business moguls and political leaders. With common ancestries in West and Central Africa — regions more affected by the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade — a majority of African Ancestry’s celebrity reveals are
from present-day Sierra Leone. Cameroon and Nigeria also run a good race as genetic homelands for many of America’s top African American icons among the nearly 40 countries that African Ancestry’s proprietary DNA testing system is designed to trace (Sample listing):

Maya Angelou — Sierra Leone
India.Arie — Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia
Jim Brown – Nigeria
Don Cheadle – Cameroon
Kimberly Elise – Mali
Roberta Flack – Cameroon
Morgan Freeman – Niger
Whoopi Goldberg — Sierra Leone, Liberia
Louis Gossett Jr. — Sierra Leone, Liberia
Judge Hatchett – Nigeria
Tom Joyner — Sierra Leone
Spike Lee, Niger – Cameroon
Taraji P. Henson – Cameroon Russ Parr – Niger
Chris Rock – Nigeria
Forrest Whitaker – Ghana
Oprah Winfrey – Liberia
Susan Taylor — Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia
Hon. Andrew Young — Sierra Leone
Mayor Shirley Franklin — Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone
Dr. Dorothy Height — Sierra Leone
Congr. Barbara Lee — Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone
Dr. Louis Sullivan — Sierra Leone
Congr. Diane Watson, Central African Republic
Chauncey Davis — Sierra Leone, Liberia
Trevor Pryce — Sierra Leone, Liberia
Etan Thomas — Sierra Leone
Dr. John Hope Franklin – Cameroon
Dr. Wade Nobles — Sierra Leone
Dr. Mae Jemison — Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal

Power in Knowing — From Kenya to U.S. Presidency:
President-Elect Obama’s paternal lineage is rooted in Kenya on Africa’s eastern coast. While his achievements have reached nations in all corners of the world, he knows exactly where it all started. African Ancestry’s one-swab technique can reveal the ancestry of an entire family so it’s economically relevant this Holiday season. Additionally, for tests submitted by December 31, African Ancestry will have results available during Black History Month so that families can commemorate their Reveals during an historic moment in time.

“The excitement of this unprecedented election season coupled with the increase in consumer-based genetic testing has spawned a heightened interest among African Americans,” said African Ancestry Co-Founder & President Gina Paige. “It’s bigger than the demand for test kits. It’s a renewed sense of self that we’ve seen permeate through our online Member discussions and community participation as well as media interest and emails and cold calls from people
hungry for more information,” said Paige.

About African Ancestry: Founded in 2003 on years of research, African Ancestry, Inc. is the ancestry tracing company that pioneered African lineage matching in the United States utilizing its proprietary DNA-database of more than 25,000 African DNA lineages to more accurately assess present-day country of origin for people of African descent. Since its inception, African Ancestry’s lineage reveals have impacted the lives of more than 100,000 people in the U.S. from communities at large to global leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Tom Joyner and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. African Ancestry has been featured across the globe in outlets such as CNN’s Black in America series, 60 Minutes and Essence Magazine; and was the centerpiece to the ground-breaking PBS special “African American Lives 1 & 2” with Skip Gates. African Ancestry is African-American-owned and operated and headquartered in Washington, DC. For press inquiries, contact Taylor Communications Group.


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