Adelante Book group discusses politics, race

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” journalist Gwen Ifill examines President Barack Obama’s achievements within the context of African-Americans’ participation in the nation’s political life from reconstruction through the civil rights era and beyond.

As Ifill sees it, Obama’s breakthrough “transformed how race and politics intersect in our society.”

Furthermore, Ifill claims Obama’s success is “merely a ripple in a pond that grows deeper every day.” The pond is filled with a new generation of African-American politicians –– Artur Davis, Harold Ford, Cory Booker, Deval Patrick –– who have broken through familiar patterns of race, gender and family legacy, which have historically defined and limited African-American leaders.

Ifill analyzes the generational divide between civil rights era activists and the bold young leaders who benefited from a movement they did not personally experience.

She understands the thorny gender issues reflected in Obama’s contest with Hillary Clinton, and she admires Obama’s transformational appeal “to all of America.”

Especially illuminating is Ifill’s chapter on Artur Davis, whose career seems to parallel that of Obama. Finally, Ifill wonders if such breakthroughs may eventually become such “a part of the national political landscape,” that we “cease noticing them altogether” –– the audacity of hope, indeed.

Sandra Lott coordinates the AAUW Adelante Book group, which will meet Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. in the Sarah Palmer Commons, Comer 202 on the University of Montevallo campus to discuss Gwen Ifill’s book, as well as “The Parable of the Talents” by Octavia Butler and “Listen to Me Good: The Story of an Alabama Midwife” by Margaret Charles Smith. The public is welcome.