If anyone had told Lawrence Otis Graham back when he attended Harvard Law School that a certain classmate by the name of Barack Obama would even run for president let alone capture the White House, he would have said they were crazy.
“I would not have picked him,” Graham said. “Because he was not a politico when we were in law school. He was more of the intellectual, the do-gooder.
“You know, all of us were sort of heading to Wall Street, to pay off our loans and make a lot of money. He was volunteering, going into Roxbury and the poor sections of Boston and volunteering his time.”
Obama never ran for office while he was at Harvard.
“He was no the typical political animal who wanted to be class president,” Graham said.
Graham is familiar to many Westchester residents as a former candidate for Congress and as a regular political commentator on Cablevision’s News 12. But he is also the author of many books, including “The Senator and the Socialite,” which tells the story ofÂ Blanche Kelso Bruce, who was born a slave and in 1875Â became America’s first black man elected to a full Senate term.
We have come a long way since then.
Graham, who is black, didn’t think he would see a black citizen become president in his lifetime. Now he is near certain that Obama will win tonight.
“I didn’t tell it was a certainty until he beat Hillary Clinton,” Graham said. “When he beat Hillary Clinton, I said he’s going to be our next president. It didn’t matter. I didn’t care who the Republicans put up against him.”
Graham predicted that Obama will get 325 electoral votes in defeating John McCain.
The sea change in American politics and more importantly, race relations, would be enormous. Graham said he was acutely aware of the cultural and social implications of an Obama victory.
“Most whites have never had a black neighbor or a black boss, even,” he said. “So the concept of electing a black president had previously been absurd, at least for the same reason it was an absurdity for many people to beleive that Oprah Winfrey could one day becme the biggest television star.”
Graham has three children of elementary school age.
“They’ve never been so engaged in politics until now,” he said, “because someone who looks like us could be living in the White House.”