After the Dream - Transcript - The Election of Barack Obama

After the Dream - Transcript - The Election of Barack Obama


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Welcome to After the Dream, which examines the social, economic, and political implications of events in America’s South following the civil rights movement of the mid 1960s, and the ongoing struggle for black equality.

In part eight, Professor Emeritus John Salmond will discuss how the civil rights movement culminated in the election of President Barack Obama.

John Salmond:

A little postscript on the immediate reaction amongst Black Southerners on what happened when Obama was elected. The enormous sense of pride, of rejoicing and of connection with the struggle with the 50 years of history that had gone before his election. This has its downside of course because many Southern Whites made their connection as well, profess themselves very fearful for the future. And I suppose our conclusion would be that there’s still one of two ways to go. There had been enormous change but nirvana has not come. There’s still has a lot of work to be done to build on the changes to have a truly non-racial society. Because there isn’t one yet.

Timothy Minchin:

Whenever you get a gain for the African-American community, you get something of a backlash of white reaction to it and I think that’s something that, you know is being carried through into Obama’s election that all the hope and optimism has been something of a backlash from the white community to that election and they’ve mobilized his opponents to regain some of the initiative.

John Salmond:

Two or three weeks ago when I was in the United States and followed the elections rather closely, What you know about the American said that nothing is certain. And if I can just finish, maybe telling you a little story that the election, I think it’s the third district of South Carolina, which is an 80 percent white district.

Always Republican and this time was no different. The Republican candidate who was endorsed by the Tea Party because he is a man of extraordinarily conservative political views happen in fact to be an African-American. And in order to become the Republican candidate in this district, he had to defeat, in the primary election, a White Republican who happened to bear the name of Thurmond and was son of one of the most strong segregationist since the beginning of the civil rights era. And he stood resolutely against change for most of his political career and then try to moderate it as much as he can. His son was defeated in a Republican primary by an African-American but not a Democrat. A bleakly conservative man. And he’s now moved to Congress where he’s already been given a leadership post. So that simply shows how it’s very hard to make any generalisations about this particular region, in this particular movement. Because in some ways you would say that was the triumph for the civil rights movement.

The book Professor Salmond co-authored with Professor Timothy mentioned is called After the Dream: Black and White Southerners since 1965. It is published by the University of Kentucky Press and is available from all good bookstores. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, you can send us an email at