This past January, when I started [teaching the post-emancipation African American history survey course], Obama was running in the primary against Hillary Clinton. Many of us still presumed that Clinton was going to be the nominee and then Obama became a movement over the next several months.
I was watching this transpire in my course. I told my students in the beginning of the course I would not be talking about the election until the end of the course because this is a class of history. But I guaranteed them that there would be themes every week in the election in the primary battles that linked what happened in January 31, 2008 to discussions of what’s happening in Reconstruction America. These narratives that Glenda [Gilmore] has already alluded to– white womanhood, the threat of the black male– these are long, long narratives and I simply can’t believe that those narratives are going to disappear.
Maybe. Maybe– I doubt it– but maybe they’ve altered somehow. Let’s just see what happens once maybe the economy gets better or maybe once middle east strife becomes less confusing. I think that role of the racial specter can come up much more easily when we’re not all hurting so much.
– Jonathan Holloway in Three Yale Historians Discuss the Election of Barack Obama (soundcloud, 2008)