In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama talks about his time as a community organizer in Chicago.
talks about the different perspectives and the personality conflicts.
Some did not feel that community organizing was necessary because
Chicago now had an African-American mayor. Others, however, thought
that community organizing was essential because there were still
problems. One African-American lady thought that a white organizer did
not have the African-American community's interests at heart, and that
the policies that he advocated would not really work. The white
organizer, meanwhile, felt that the African-American lady didn't like
him because she wanted to be the one in charge.
There were Obama's
attempts to become effective in his line of work, and Obama is candid
about where he failed. He came across to people as an interviewer and
thought that leaving tracts or brochures would launch a successful
operation, but the white organizer told him that he should work more at
getting at the heart of people's discontent, listening to people, and
showing them how community organizing could actually improve their
There were some characters. One person, Will, just left
when he thought that a meeting was boring. There was fear that he'd be
the only one left to run the community organizing operation!
at the end of my latest reading, I gained insight into why the community
organizers kept on keeping on, notwithstanding the challenges. And it
came from the lips of Will, who told about a time when things were
better and children were happier, in contrast to the sadness, anger, and
unhappiness of the present. That inspired Obama, who was asked by a
lady why he did community organizing when he did not appear to have a
solid religion (at least at the time). And it taught the lady that her
reasons for community organizing and those of Barack were really not so
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