African-Americans in the Obama Administration: A look ahead

“Did you notice how few black folks there were?”

That’s what I asked my wife when she, my son and I visited the Barack Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago last summer. It was obvious from the moment we stepped off the elevator, even though the young brother who gave us the tour was on point.

There are lots of reasons that could be given for the fact. Like many of those in the headquarters were volunteers and African-Americans would be less likely to take off of their paid jobs to work on a political campaign.

Maybe the technology gap means that there are less African-Americans available for new media initiatives the Obama campaign pioneered.

Or maybe this lack of blackness was designed to help Obama appeal to White America in ways that even John Kerry and Al Gore could not.

Whatever the reason, I asked myself often during the campaign “where are the black folks?”

Since the election, there have been a number of profiles done on Team Obama, and the African-Americans who have played key roles in his campaign – even if it was behind the scenes. Some of them are working on his transition team as well as part of his economic advisory board.

Each day this week, I will highlight a different person who has been influential in the past and may end up with a role in the upcoming administration. The series is inspired by an article from Great Britain’s Daily Telegraph. Here are the individuals that I will profile this week.

Monday – Valerie Jarrett

Tuesday – John Rogers

Wednesday – Charles Ogletree

Thursday – Cassandra Butts

Friday – Richard (Dick) Parsons

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