The Social Significance of Barack Obama

Last night at the Democratic Convention, Barack Obama was officially selected as the nominee by acclamation of the party’s delegates (photo from the Demconvention Flickrstream).

Tonight, Obama will give his speech to the party and the nation on the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech in Washington.   Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement who stood with King that day, characterizes the nomination of Obama as a continuation of a long struggle that may lift us all as a nation.   Obama is the first African American to achieve the nomination for president in the more than 400 years the U.S. has been a nation.   These are remarkable times.  But, what is the sociological significance of Barack Obama’s candidacy?

Recently, a group of sociologists discussed the social significance of Barack Obama’s candidacy.  At an online roundtable hosted by the ASA’s magazine Contexts our own Joe Feagin joined Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Josh Pacewicz, Enid Logan, Jeff Manza, and Gianpaolo Baiocchi.  The editors at Contexts solicited short statements from these six sociologists on the significance of Obama’s candidacy and potential Presidency, then published them online & then held a group discussion about the statements in the comments.  You can read the entire discussion here.

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