Hi friends! I’m delighted to welcome back Patricia Sargeant, who is a total sweetheart. We’ve had a slight deviation in schedule, and Patricia, who has been awesome throughout the year with organizing posts and such, stepped in. <3 It’s a really thoughtful, wonderful post, so I hope you read it and chime in!
Decades: A Journey of African American Romance
Guest Author Patricia Sargeant Talks Hope, Love, Courage on the Decades Journey
Note: The Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series launched in January 2018. It consists of 12 books, one released each month. Each story is set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page.
My research for my Decades story, Campaign for Her Heart – Decades: A Journey of African American Romance, Book 12, reinforced for me a widely held belief that history is cyclical. I realize that my story is set in the 2010, 2012 to be exact. But to understand where we are, it’s important to understand where we’ve come from. For example, Black Lives Matter was founded on July 29, 2013, in response to deadly violence against black and brown people by states and vigilantes. That fact takes on a different perspective when you consider that 96 years earlier, hundreds of people participated in the Silent March, a demonstration that took place in New York City on July 29, 1917, in protest of the vicious lynchings and other race-related violence against African Americans.
Civil activism, particularly in the 1960s, finally earned the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, 53 years later, in part because the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v Holder 2013 and the unprecedented gerrymandering after the 2010 census, we’re still fighting to secure voting rights.
In 1986, then-President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to nearly 3 million immigrants who were living in the United States illegally. In 2012, then-President Barack Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which granted approved individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children to receive a deferral from deportation.
In 1992, there was the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings. In 2018, there was the Brett Kavanaugh/Dr. Christine Blasey Ford hearings.
History is cyclical.
Through it all, there have been three constants. The first is love. The second is hope. Together, these lead to courage. There are so many couples who’ve helped to make African American history who embody love, hope and courage: Reverend Dr. Martin Luther Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Medgar and Myrlie Evers; Reverend Ralph David and Juanita Abernathy; Reverend Dr. C.T. and Octavia Vivian.
But for the purposes of this blog post on the Decades series project, I’d like to focus on President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama because they were our bridge of love, hope and courage that helped ease our country from the decade of the 2000s into the decade of the 2010s.
Reportedly after his first State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “If you were going to list the 100 most popular things that I have done as president, being married to Michelle Obama is No. 1.” There’s the love.
During his final press conference, President Obama said of his daughters, “They know there are a lot more good people than bad in this country, and there’s a core decency to this country, and that they’ve got to be a part of lifting that up. And I expect they will be.” There’s the hope.
And when President Obama was first inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009 – one day after the national observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday – he said during his speech, “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.” There’s the courage.
Most of the country first met Barack Obama when he gave the keynote speech for then-Democratic Presidential Nominee John F. Kerry during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. His intellect captivated us. His words could charm a bird from the trees. And he wasn’t hard on the eyes. In short, he is our classic story hero.
When the American people elected Barack Obama to be our president in 2008, he moved his family into the White House with our blessing. For the first time, black America had a First Family that looked like us. And, bonus, they seemed happy and well-adjusted. We could feel the love they had for each other. Barack and Michelle Obama gave us numerous public displays of affection. It made us want to sit a little closer to our partners. Cuddle a little more. Hold hands while we walked. It reaffirmed for any remaining nonbelievers that black romance was alive and well.
It wasn’t just their undeniable love for each other that made the fairytale real. It was their intellect, charisma and accomplishments. They gave us so much to be proud of; so much to be inspired by. During his two terms in office, Barack Obama named the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court Justice; made health care a right, not a privilege; ended Osama bin Laden, a notorious international terrorist; and legalized same-sex marriage.
Michelle Obama, with her degrees from two Ivy League colleges, is our classic story heroine. She’s brilliant, beautiful and energetic. During her time as First Lady, her approval rating remained consistently around 70 percent, according to BlackDoctor.org. While in office, she laid claim to a long list of accomplishments, including the Reach Higher Initiative, which encourages young people to continue their education past high school, whether it’s with professional training programs, community colleges or a four-year college or university. With Barack Obama, Michelle Obama launched Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative to help girls around the world go to school and stay in school. Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative to support service members, veterans and their families through health care, education and employment opportunities.
It really isn’t surprising that our First Couple inspired the movie Southside With You, which is described as a 2016 biographical romantic drama film about the Obamas’s first date. The Obamas have inspired more than one fictional romantic novel, including my Decades story, Campaign for Her Heart.
For more information about the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series, please visit our Decades Facebook community. We also hope you enjoy the 12 stories in our Decades series:
A Delicate Affair by Lindsay Evans (1900s),
A Secret Desire by Kaia Danielle (1910s),
Love’s Serenade by Sheryl Lister (1920s),
The Art of Love by Suzette Harrison (1930s),
Love’s Sweet Melody by Kianna Alexander (1940s),
Pride and Passion by Carla Buchanan (1950s),
Promise Me a Dream by Wayne Jordan (1960s),
Election Day by Keith Thomas Walker (1970s),
Made to Hold You by Elle Wright (1980s),
Thug Love by Zuri Day (1990s),