By: Ashley Hungerford
HS 129, Summer 1 2009
After studying parts of African American life in the days of slavery from early 1600s to mid 1950s it is nice to know that today’s African Americans do not have to live in the circumstances that they once did. There is so much that I could say about African American life today, about how it has changed that I do not know where to begin.
Today, June 13, 2009 African Americans are able to ride in all different kinds of transportation at any time. They are able to walk the streets; they do not have curfews unless they are children with curfews set by the parents. African Americans are also able to own anything that they can afford. In today’s economy, many people are losing jobs because we are currently going through a recession. Notice, I did not say people are losing jobs because of their complexion.
Another thing is schools. I graduated from Northwest High School two years ago. Students, teachers and staff of all races are welcomed. African American’s today truly have equal opportunity for education. For example, I currently attend Montgomery College. Everyone no matter what race is welcome to enroll and get an education from MC. Walking the halls of Montgomery College proves exactly this! People of all different races or nationalities can be seen. Another thing that has changed for African Americans is the right to vote. All American’s have the right to vote at 18 as well as the right to jury duty; whether the person is black, white, Spanish, male, female, or etc..
This particular year was a special year for American citizens, especially those of African descent. Many African Americans today own many businesses. For example, ice cream shops, restaurants, daycares, five star hotels, doctors offices, and much more. Today’s African American women are also owners of many of these businesses. For example, clothing stores, salons’, spa’s, many are even lawyers, therapists and so on. Some examples I know of are, Rita’s in Gaithersburg and the Starbucks in Gaithersburg.
However none of this is as exciting as the news I am about to tell you. This year, the first black man, Barrack Obama, was elected president of the United States. Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University & Harvard Law School. Before earning his degree, he worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the university of Chicago law school (1992-2004). Obama served three terms in Illinois senate from 1997 to 2004. He was elected to the US senate in November 2004. He began his run for US presidency in 2007. He was inaugurated as president January 20, 2009.
I did not get a chance to go to the inauguration because I covered a work shift for my manager so he was able to attend the inauguration. I remember working on the day of the election, it was amazing to see how important this day, or point in time really is. The newspapers were being sold and laminated. I remember having one older woman come in both days with big thick frames. They looked like the ones you could put a piece of clothing in. The women stood right by the counter after she bought the paper and framed it.
On inauguration day the store was empty, everyone was at the inauguration! When people started getting home, they would come into the store with this surge of excitement. People were cheering and shouting in the parking lot with decorated cars and their newspapers, with cups of coffee. It was a very exciting and life changing event, I am proud just to be living in the same time era that this has happened.
As you can see, African American life today has significantly changed from the 1600s to now, 2009. African Americans today are able to lead a nation or their very own business. They are able to own anything that money can buy them with some exceptions. For example, certain ages are not able to purchase tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. African Americans today are allowed to be out whenever they please and visit whomever they want. They are able to ride in any form of public transportation and they do not have to be segregated to any certain area, at any time. African Americans today can live freely and equally among all other races.
The reason I chose these pictures was to show that in 2009 things have changed significantly. These pictures illustrate that African Americans no longer have limits. These pictures also illustrate the ongoing changes of African American life.
The first picture illustrates the education that African Americans as well as any else is able to acquire. The second picture shows two things. First, it shows that black and whites are now truly equal. They are able to stand together on the same stage, for the same purpose. And second, it shows the abilities of one African American, backed by both black and white people. This picture makes me feel determined to be the best that I can be because if one man can overcome something that took about two centuries to do, then imagine what the rest of us could do if we just worked for it.
My last two pictures are significant because they show a strong leader of a nation, and the proud father husband!
Before Barrack Obama, there were only white male presidents. This is a very important piece of future history that will play a huge part in telling the story of African American life.