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In hindsight, a turning point was the debate before Iowa when Clinton stumbled on the question about

immigrants getting driver’s licenses in New York. That crack in the armor gave Obama an opening

to turn the tide. Prior to that, he had been having difficulty getting any traction.



Books by Roland Martin

Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith  / Speak Brother!: A Black Man’s View of America

The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin

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Roland Martin Reflects on Obama

Interview by Kam Williams


Between Barack Obama’s declaring his candidacy for the Presidency and Election Day 2008, Roland Martin filed hundreds of reports about the campaign in his capacity as a political correspondent for CNN and TV-One Networks, as well as a radio talk show host and a nationally-syndicated columnist. Furthermore, Martin was also occasionally afforded access to Obama for intimate, 1-on-1 interviews. So, it only makes sense that he would decide to publish The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin, a book recounting Obama’s historic run for the White House.

Recently, Roland reflected with me about the campaign, the book, his career and his family life.  

Kam Williams: Nice speaking with you again, Roland. Let me start by asking what inspired you to publish the book?

Roland Martin: I was thinking about the fact that I had written about a hundred columns during the campaign, and I realized I could do a book on it. So, I started pulling all the radio interviews I did during the campaign, and my blog posts, and my interview with Michelle Obama, and I realized I could put together an anthology from just my coverage alone. But then I thought of calling about 15 of the celebrities I had met on the campaign trail, like Common, Chris Tucker, Jessica Alba and Malik Yoba to speak with them about their involvement. And they all said, “Yeah, we’ll do it!”

Kam Williams: How did you decide on the cover and on the book’s title?

Roland Martin: I knew I wanted it to look like those “Hope” and “Change” campaign posters. Then, I was trying to figure out what the heck to even call it, and I remembered a book I’d read about the New York Times’ coverage of Lincoln’s election, presidency and death, called Lincoln in the Times: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, as Originally Reported by The New York Times.

Kam Williams: Barbara Darko asks, when did you start covering the Obama campaign?

Roland Martin: I was already doing my daily radio show, when I was signed by CNN in February of 2007. He declared his candidacy that same month. At that time, I was trying to figure out where I fit in. Everybody was saying, “Hillary Clinton’s going to get the nomination,” like it was a foregone conclusion. But I thought “Hey, I don’t think anybody’s paying serious attention to this guy.” I decided my niche was to know anything and everything the Obama campaign was doing, so that when I went on the air, I would own that space. We had correspondents covering several candidates at once, but my approach was, “No, I’m going to own ‘this’ space.”

Kam Williams: Larry Greenberg observed that this book comes with a DVD of your interviews with Obama. He asks, why did you decide to include that?

Roland Martin: I said to myself, “What could make this book unique?” The interviews add value and were part of the coverage anyway.

Kam Williams: When did you get a good sense that Obama could actually win the Democratic nomination? I assume earlier than the Iowa caucuses.

Roland Martin: No, because, remember, everybody thought Senator Clinton was going to get it. In hindsight, a turning point was the debate before Iowa when Clinton stumbled on the question about immigrants getting driver’s licenses in New York. That crack in the armor gave Obama an opening to turn the tide. Prior to that, he had been having difficulty getting any traction. Obviously, Iowa changed the whole game. 

Kam Williams: Did you find it hard to stay objective during the campaign as a black man? 

Roland Martin: My role wasn’t to be objective. As a contributor, I was there to be subjective. I was free to give opinion, and that’s how I approached it.

Kam Williams: You interviewed President Obama recently. Does he seem like a different person, given his big drop in approval ratings compared to a year ago?

Roland Martin: I didn’t get a sense that because of the drop in poll number things have changed. He’s always this person who’s on an even keel. But you certainly can tell that the weight of the presidency is there, as it is on any president, because their looks change in terms of their hair color and their facial expressions. It’s a difficult job. It’s not simple at all. If you want to age a lot of years, become president.

Kam Williams: Publisher Sonny Jiles, who used to be your boss when you wrote for the Houston Defender, says, “Tell him I love him and to give me a call.”  

Roland Martin: No problem.

Kam Williams: She also asks, “What advice do you have for young journalists, given the way the industry is changing?”

Roland Martin: I will say very simply, “Read! Read! Read! Read! Read! What has always helped me has been a reservoir of knowledge. So, whenever something came up, I could pull from historical elements for assistance in addressing present-day issues. I am also careful to cultivate professional contacts which might come in handy at a later time.

Kam Williams: Children’s book author Irene Smalls admires the fact that you are a true family man. You often talk about your wife; you are paying for nieces and nephews to go to college. She asks, is family fidelity and true success ultimately compatible?

Roland Martin: I was attending an event years ago where the question “Who are your role models?” was raised. I heard people respond with names like “Oprah Winfrey” and “Bill Cosby.” I have nothing against them but no celebrity ever fed me, clothed me, helped me with my homework, drove me to school or picked me up when it was late. It was my mom and dad. So, family to me is absolutely vital. Everybody can adore you because you’re on television, but at the end of the day, when you’re no longer on TV, who’s still there? It’s family. In terms of my wife and me raising my four nieces in Chicago, and also taking in my sister and her two kids at our home in Dallas, I felt like I couldn’t speak out all around the country about saving our children, if I didn’t do it at home. I can’t talk about the education of black children, if I ignored two of my nieces who were a couple of grade levels behind. I believe that charity begins at home, and I take seriously the role of a godfather to fill the gap when the parents aren’t doing their job. My wife is me, and a part of my life. When you hide that relationship, you stop being your authentic self.

Kam Williams: Irene also wonders whether when you were webmaster for BlackAmericaweb you ever imagined this broad-ranging, successful development of your career?

Roland Martin: Yes. Remember, I went to a communications high school in Houston, with a TV station, a radio station and a newspaper. I mastered all three media while still in high school. They tried to get me to focus only on one in college, but I said, No!” Even while I ran BlackAmericaweb, I was news editor of Savoy Magazine, started my syndicated column and published my first book. And I was doing radio even before that. And I started appearing on CNN in 2002. So, I was doing five different media even then. That was always the plan. I never only wanted to settle for 1.  

Kam Williams: Irene wants to know, what were you thoughts after your recent trip to China? She says, “Looking at how China has treated Africa and Africans do you see any problems with encouraging greater investment by China in the predominately minority inner cities of America?”

Roland Martin: First of all, China has invested upwards of $100 billion a year in Africa. The Chinese certainly want access to natural resources. But you have to ask yourself, who else is investing in Africa? The Chinese are investing in dams, in highways, in construction. You don’t see the United States making that level of commitment to the continent. I don’t have an issue with Chinese investment in Africa as long as there is equal trade, and Africans are getting what they need in return. That’s a win-win relationship. 

Kam Williams: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

Roland Martin: You got me.

Kam Williams: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

Roland Martin: Last night. My wife and I watched Couple’s Retreat. Man, that movie was funny!

Kam Williams: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

Roland Martin: I read several books at one time. One is James Brown’s Role of a Lifetime. I’m also reading Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power by Marcus Mabry. And Byron Pitts book, “Step Out on Nothing.” And Gerald Boyd’s “My Time in Black and White: Race and Power at the New York Times,” an awesome book. He broke it all down. And I have about 60 more books waiting in the hopper.

Kam Williams: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Roland Martin: An unapologetic black man.

Kam Williams: The Zane question: Do you have any regrets?

Roland Martin: No, because even if something didn’t turn out well, it’s still a part of me that makes me, me. So, I never look upon anything as a regret. It helps you regardless.

Kam Williams: What is your favorite dish to cook?

Roland Martin: Gumbo.

Kam Williams: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?

Roland Martin: Through God, and an absolute belief in self.

Kam Williams: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

Roland Martin: I never thought about that. I’ll have to come back to that one.  

Kam Williams: The Mike Pittman question: Who was your best friend as a child?

Roland Martin: My brother and my cousins. You gotta understand. My grandmother had eight children. They averaged five kids each. We didn’t have room for friends. I have no recollection of having a sleepover at a non-relative’s house.  

Kam Williams: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

Roland Martin: That not a single black kid would drop out of school.

Kam Williams: The Uduak Oduok question: Who’s your favorite clothes designer?

Roland Martin: Sean Jean.

Kam Williams:: The Boris Kodjoe question: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

Roland Martin: Being a strong uncle to my nieces and nephews.

Kam Williams: How do you want to be remembered?

Roland Martin: As a brother who didn’t give a damn what anybody thought, but he brought his views to every venue in an uncompromising and unapologetic fashion.

Kam Williams: Well, thanks for another great interview, brother.

Roland Martin: Sounds good. Alright man, thanks a lot.

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Noted African American journalist Roland Martin takes readers back down President Barack Obama's campaign trail in this chronological journal of events that dates back to when then Senator Obama had yet to announce his candidacy and follows him on his journey to the presidency. Martin's charismatic writing style is presented through his in-depth analysis of the presidential campaign and Obama's struggles and successes. Martin gives readers insight on how each important event played out in front of the nation and also shares interviews from his broadcasts, including an interview he conducted with President Obama after his win in Iowa in January 2008. Other Notable interviews include Dr. Cornel West, Rep John Lewis, Spike Lee, Maxine Waters and Michael Eric Dyson.Publisher, Third World Press

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Zippety Doo Dah, Zippety-Ay: How Satisfactch'll Is Education Today? Toward a New Song of the South

Dr. Joyce E. King on Black Education and New Paradigms

The State of African Education  / Attack On Africans Writing Their Own History Part 1 of 7

Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.

Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.

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Basil Davidson's  "Africa Series"

 Different But Equal  /  Mastering A Continent  /  Caravans of Gold  / The King and the City / The Bible and The Gun

West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850  (Davidson) / African Slave Trade: Precolonial History, 1450-1850 (Davidson)


John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies. As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what's in your heart than what's in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America's shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy can make you money, but money can't make you happy."

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)


posted 13 April 2010




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Related files: Roland Martin:  Election Night Coverage