A trenchant and timeless examination of the still-contested meanings of President Barack Obama's election, from a preeminent scholar of race, politics, and American history-with a new introduction by the author.
When voters in 2008 chose the United States' first black president, some Americans hailed the event as a sign that the nation had, at long last, transcended its bloody history of racial inequality. Obama's victory was indescribably momentous, but if the intervening years proved anything, it is that we never leave history entirely behind. Indeed, this may be the ultimate lesson of the Obama era.
First published in 2010, The Substance of Hope is acclaimed historian Jelani Cobb's meditation on what Obama's election represented, an insightful investigation into the civil rights movement forces that helped produce it, and a prescient inquiry into how American society does-and does not-change. In penetrating, elegant prose, Cobb teases apart the paradoxes embodied in race and patriotism, identity and citizenship, progress and legacy.
Now reissued with a new introduction by the author, reflecting on how the seismic impact of the Obama presidency continues to shape America, The Substance of Hope is an indelible work of history and cultural criticism from one of our most singular voices.
About the Author
Jelani Cobb is a historian, and a professor of journalism at Columbia University. A staff writer at The New Yorker since 2015, he is a recipient of the Sidney Hillman Award for Opinion and Analysis, as well as fellowships from the Ford and Fulbright Foundations. He resides in New York City.
“This little book is packed with common sense observations that are given weight and meaning through Professor Cobb's academic and historical insight.” —Melissa Harris-Perry
“A provocative book, from a provocative mind.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates