It is perhaps the greatest unsolved mystery of all time: Did the lost city of Atlantis actually exist? And if it did once exist, where was it located before its watery demise? Fortunately, the original account of a civilization that vanished beneath the waves contains a surprising amount of realistic detail that might be used to answer these questions. Unfortunately, not all of those clues are of equal value. Three thorny problems in particular must be dealt with to avoid embarking on a wild goose chase to the bottom of the sea (where, incidentally, Atlantis almost certainly did not end up).
Artist’s representation of Atlantis. (Source: BigStockPhoto)
Problem Number One
Every Single Reliable Clue We Have about Atlantis comes from Plato.
The Athenian philosopher Plato was the greatest thinker in Western Civilization. He was also the original source of the Atlantis story. Nothing specific referring to Atlantis appears before his account, and anything that comes after draws from his original. For anyone hoping to find the lost city, this is usually assumed to be a good thing. If one of the most brilliant thinkers of all time wrote about Atlantis, and repeatedly described the original story as true—which he did—then it must be real, right?
Bust of Plato. ( CC BY 2.5 )
Not necessarily. One of the most intriguing things about Plato’s use of the Atlantis story is where it appears in his dialogues. The story comes in two parts. The first section comes at the opening of the dialogue Timaeus. This work seems to have been written as a sort of sequel to the Republic, Plato’s masterwork that covers topics ranging from government to justice to the need for philosopher-kings, and a thousand other big concepts.
In the Timaeus, the character Critias is prodded to tell a story that illustrates the ideal state—a reference to a speech Socrates has just given in the Republic—and he begins to relate the tale of how “the island of Atlantis” was struck by “earthquakes and floods” and “disappeared in the depths of the sea.”
- Atlantis: Examining the Legendary Tale of Plato
- What Became of Atlantis: The Flood from Heaven
- Evidence of The Great Flood – Real or a Myth? Part I
The second part of Plato’s story appears in the dialogue Critias. It is here that Plato starts to pile up the realistic-sounding details that have tantalized would-be Atlantis detectives. Critias provides the location of Atlantis—opposite the Pillars of Heracles , facing the land now known as Gades. Among other clues, he describes the concentric rings of land and water upon which the capital of Atlantis was built; the island’s red and black stone; its shiny copper-like metal (called orichalcum) and the kinds of produce grown on the island’s enormous oblong plain.
While flood myths (Noah, Gilgamesh, Deucalion) were common in antiquity, none of them closely matches the Atlantis story. It’s entirely possible that Plato made the whole thing up, an opinion favored by those academics who deign to even consider the question of whether Atlantis was real.
Any number of attempts have been made over the years to decode the Atlantean language, which Plato never describes, or to search for ancient places with names that sound like “Atlantis.” In the Timaeus, Critias says that the original story came from Egypt, and that all the names had been changed during translation. Following that logic, the original name of the lost civilization Plato describes could have been almost anything except Atlantis.
Any alleged new details that have emerged in the centuries after Plato’s death, such as the claims that the Atlanteans had nuclear power or sophisticated airships or the assistance of aliens, must be rejected if a serious attempt to solve the mystery is to be made. Also, Plato never mentions the pyramids in relation to Atlantis. Sorry.
Claims that the Atlanteans had nuclear power or sophisticated airships or the assistance of aliens must be rejected. ( Phil Daub /Adobe Stock)
Problem Number Two
Plato Was a Pythagorean
According to the Seventh Letter , a biographical account that was likely either written by Plato or by someone who knew him, the philosopher left Athens for several years after his mentor Socrates was put to death. He traveled throughout the eastern Mediterranean, stopping for a long time at Taras in what is now southern Italy.
This city was led by the statesman and mathematician Archytas, who followed principles established by Pythagoras, best known for his 3-4-5 triangle theorem. Pythagorean influence is obvious throughout Plato’s work; the Timaeus in particular tries to find the mathematical logic in the cosmos. According to one famous account, over the entrance to the Academy, the school Plato founded in Athens, were inscribed the words “NONE BUT GEOMETERS MAY ENTER HERE.”
Detail of Pythagoras writing from ‘The School of Athens.’ By Raphael.
The reason this is a serious problem for anyone trying to determine the location of the original Atlantis, if it ever existed, is that some of the most concrete details Plato gives about the vanished island are numbers: the specific widths of its circular rings of earth and water, the size of its temples, and—what is surely the number most frequently cited by potential solvers of the Atlantis puzzle—the fact that nine thousand years had passed since its destruction. Since this date (which would work out to around 9600 BCE) roughly coincides with the Ice Age melt at the onset of the Holocene Epoch , many have hypothesized that rising sea levels inundated Atlantis.
The Pythagoreans, however, did not use numbers exactly as we use them, to signify amounts. To them, numbers were living things with personalities; numerology can be traced back to Pythagoras. They saw numbers as a hybrid of physics and religion, a possible gateway to discovering the secrets of the universe.
Pythagoreans celebrate sunrise. (1869) By Fyodor Bronnikov.
If Plato was using numbers in a Pythagorean manner, it would help explain some of the more outlandish figures he gives when describing Atlantis, such as a military force of more than one million personnel and a massive canal that would have required excavations many times greater than those needed to create the Panama Canal.
Problem Number Three in the Search for Atlantis
Plato Was a Philosopher, not a Historian
Despite the repeated reassurances from Plato’s character Critias as he is telling the story of Atlantis that “every word of it is true,” we cannot read Plato’s work literally; such a fundamentalist reading would require, for starters, a willingness to believe that Atlantis itself was created by the sea god Poseidon.
- Pythagoras and His Life Beyond the Pythagorean Theorem
- The Ancient Civilizations that Came Before: Self-Eradication, Or Natural Cataclysm? – Part I
- Ten Legendary Lost Cities that Have Emerged from the Past
Written history was a relatively new technology in Plato’s day— Herodotus had initiated the discipline in Greece a century before—and Plato was uncomfortable with it. Up until that time, historic events such as the destruction of a civilization by natural disaster would have been passed down orally as myths (as in Homer’s Iliad). In Plato’s dialogue the Phaedrus, Socrates discredits writing as inferior to memory because it cannot be probed by questioning and so offers “the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom.”
Plato's Atlantis described in Timaeus and Critias.
Too frequently, anyone trying to prove where Atlantis might have been located picks and chooses the evidence that suits his or her hypothesis and rejects anything that contradicts it. But Plato’s works—notoriously some of the most obtuse in philosophy—were written not for a modern audience raised on Indiana Jones movies but for his philosophy students at the Academy. The story of Atlantis cannot simply be taken at face value, but must be interpreted.
Are these three problems insurmountable? Perhaps not. If the Atlantis tale is indeed a treasure map, it is one that needs to be decoded first. In a future post, I’ll address some reasons to be hopeful that Atlantis—or whatever disaster originally inspired the story of Atlantis— may someday be found .
Mark Adams is author of the New York Times bestsellers Turn Right at Machu Picchu and Meet Me in Atlantis : Across Three Continents in Search of the Sunken City . Learn more at MarkAdamsBooks.com
3 Problems to Remember When Trying to Find Atlantis - History
Hi there, one of my biggest struggle in this game is to the increase my city population, i tried a lot of connection and all, make my stations bigger but my population isn t growing, or very slowly.
Any tips on how to increase the population rapidly?
Biggest problem I have is when I have to haul a basic resource like logs or corn 1/2 way across the map. Takes a dedicated line with 3 plus trains to keep a bigger city fed, more as you grow.
I know it says 60%, which should allow for 3 out of 5 to cause growth, but if I don't have those 5 the growth stalls and won't top out. (almost feels like it grows to 60% of potential) Not sure on how accurate this is, it just feels that way.
There were a lot of interesting pop posts when it came to them being passengers, looking forward to digging deeper into this today to find out this very thing. (if it's out there yet)
You need to fulfill their resource demands as best as possible.
Look at the city screen and see how your "fulfillment of demand" is doing.
Build a Museum in the city. This should give a Bonus of 10% to Demand Fulfillment Rate.
If there is not enough corn or wheat on the map, buy the farm and expand production. You can increase the output of every farm/industrie up to 1.000%.
I also found that manually loading my trains helped a lot. With automatic loading, trains were often loaded with only one good, so that cities had lots of good X (which doesn't make the city any happier), but none of good Y (this is a problem). With manual loading, I can load 50% of good X and 50% of good Y so that more of the cities' demands are fulfilled.
Of course you can probably achieve the same with two seperate trains each only delivering one good. Depends on your playstyle. For me the 50/50 solution worked quite well.
I looked at some details in beta and convinced myself the Passengers are part of the composite fulfillment %. I remember trying to find a way to interpret the goods fulfillment only in a way that matched the % displayed, and could not square it without a HEAVY Passenger component.
I also recall the vague impression that the growth/shrinking isn't just a full on/off switch at 60%. Yes, 60%+ is needed for growth, but at just over 60% growth was very slow, even occasionally losing 1 population. At higher fulfillment, growth seemed more rapid. Agian this is a vague recolleciton from beta so don't take it at truth.
When you you are using Automatic or freight mode: Watch for cargoes that go through city A (but are ordered to stop at A) to reach city B. City A may take all of it and not leave any for the train to take to B. You should to order some of the trains to pass through A (do not stop there) and go to B first. If you want, the train can stop at A on the way back to the source.
The alternative is to use manual mode where you can control how much gets unloaded in A and how much gets kept on the train to get unloaded at B, and even how much gets unloaded at C after that.
An example would be the grain and wood north of Cheyenne in Chapter 1 and trying to get them delivered to Denver as well as Cheyenne. If you take the naive (beginner's) approach and all trains stop at Cheyenne before going to Denver, and you are using Automatic or Freight Mode, then Denver will have a hard time getting grain and wood, particularly grain because the Brewery In Cheyenne wants ALL of the Grain to make Beer. The easist solution is send "some" of the grain and wood trains direct to Denver without stopping in Cheyenne (they can stop in Cheyenne on the way back to resource site/Station).
If you want to only use one Engine (or train route) then do this: Pickup Grain and Wood (stop 1), Drop them at Cheyenne (stop 2), pickup some more Grain and Wood (stop 3), and deliver grain and wood to Denver (stop 4) (do NOT stop at Cheyenne on the way to Denver), (stop 5) is an optional stop at Cheyenne on the way back. If you do this, then Denver will get grain and wood delivered to it, that it needs to grow (or at least "Some" of the grain and wood it wants).
Cheyenne will have similiar problems getting goods from South and East of Denver delivered through Denver to reach Cheyenne.
Some people do NOT seem to realize that the same Station can appear MANY times in the route for ONE train. You just have to have other Stations in between those appearances in the Route List. They also seem to have trouble realizing that you can go through a Station (because the track goes through the Station) and NOT STOP there. (The train may get delayed by other trains).
I am not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, it can be more a matter of experience, habit, language, history, culture and point of view. Quite often something seems obvious after you realize it, but before that, it is NOT obvious. Some of this happens during learning a new game or game system to any of us. So please do not insult people who are trying to learn a new game, or take insult over others' comments. I have made my own share of newbie mistakes.
Challenges Immigrants Faced During the 20th Century
Polish immigrants came to the United States as early as the last decades of the previous century to the point that, by 1910, there were close to a million Polish immigrants in the United States. Many of them found work in the mines but most encountered jobs with low wages and suffered anti-immigrant attacks.
After World War I, Congress passed new anti-immigrant restrictions. Quotas for some countries were established and others were not allowed any immigrants to come over. But some immigrant groups did make some inroads into American society to the point where they began to proudly produce presidential candidates and other citizens.
During World War II, the United States experienced another wave of racially-fueled hysteria following the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor that ultimately led to Japanese-American citizens being relocated to internment camps Under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. This order was not exclusive to first-generation Japanese immigrants, but included second- and third-generation immigrants, many of whom had never been to Japan or even knew how to speak Japanese. However, their “otherness” led to a shameful period in American history stemming from the anti-immigrant sentiment that has always been present in the US.
Source: Dialogue on Europe
3. Historical Analysis and Interpretation
One of the most common problems in helping students to become thoughtful readers of historical narrative is the compulsion students feel to find the one right answer, the one essential fact, the one authoritative interpretation. “Am I on the right track?” “Is this what you want?” they ask. Or, worse yet, they rush to closure, reporting back as self-evident truths the facts or conclusions presented in the document or text.
These problems are deeply rooted in the conventional ways in which textbooks have presented history: a succession of facts marching straight to a settled outcome. To overcome these problems requires the use of more than a single source: of history books other than textbooks and of a rich variety of historical documents and artifacts that present alternative voices, accounts, and interpretations or perspectives on the past.
Students need to realize that historians may differ on the facts they incorporate in the development of their narratives and disagree as well on how those facts are to be interpreted. Thus, “history” is usually taken to mean what happened in the past but written history is a dialogue among historians, not only about what happened but about why and how events unfolded. The study of history is not only remembering answers. It requires following and evaluating arguments and arriving at usable, even if tentative, conclusions based on the available evidence.
To engage in historical analysis and interpretation students must draw upon their skills ofhistorical comprehension. In fact, there is no sharp line separating the two categories. Certain of the skills involved in comprehension overlap the skills involved in analysis and are essential to it. For example, identifying the author or source of a historical document or narrative and assessing its credibility (comprehension) is prerequisite to comparing competing historical narratives (analysis). Analysis builds upon the skills of comprehension it obliges the student to assess the evidence on which the historian has drawn and determine the soundness of interpretations created from that evidence. It goes without saying that in acquiring these analytical skills students must develop the ability to differentiate between expressions of opinion, no matter how passionately delivered, and informed hypotheses grounded in historical evidence.
Well-written historical narrative has the power to promote students’ analysis of historical causality–of how change occurs in society, of how human intentions matter, and how ends are influenced by the means of carrying them out, in what has been called the tangle of process and outcomes. Few challenges can be more fascinating to students than unraveling the often dramatic complications of cause. And nothing is more dangerous than a simple, monocausal explanation of past experiences and present problems.
Finally, well-written historical narratives can also alert students to the traps of lineality and inevitability. Students must understand the relevance of the past to their own times, but they need also to avoid the trap of lineality, of drawing straight lines between past and present, as though earlier movements were being propelled teleologically toward some rendezvous with destiny in the late 20th century.
A related trap is that of thinking that events have unfolded inevitably–that the way things are is the way they had to be, and thus that individuals lack free will and the capacity for making choices. Unless students can conceive that history could have turned out differently, they may unconsciously accept the notion that the future is also inevitable or predetermined, and that human agency and individual action count for nothing. No attitude is more likely to feed civic apathy, cynicism, and resignation–precisely what we hope the study of history will fend off. Whether in dealing with the main narrative or with a topic in depth, we must always try, in one historian’s words, to “restore to the past the options it once had.”
HISTORICAL THINKING STANDARD 3
The student engages in historical analysis and interpretation:
3 Problems to Remember When Trying to Find Atlantis - History
This week the Opinionated Gamers are publishing a series of articles ranking games in a few different ways based on data collected from many different contributors. Today’s topic is the most underappreciated games, which we understood to be games that we love and that don’t get as much widespread acclaim or attention as we think they warrant. Sixteen contributors voted on their picks for most underappreciated games to come up with today’s list, including Alan How, Brian Leet, Erik Arneson, Fraser McHarg, Greg Schloesser, Joe Huber, Larry Levy, Lorna, Patrick Korner, Mark Jackson, Matt Carlson, RJ Garrison, Simon Neale, Talia Rosen, Tery Noseworthy, and Wei-Hwa Huang.
It was an exciting race with over 110 different games receiving at least one vote. We’re publishing our Top 20 most underappreciated games here to draw attention to a few diamonds in the rough. Some of these games are actually quite popular and well-known, but just not quite as beloved as we collectively think they ought to be. Without further ado, here are the games that we think you may be overlooking and not giving their due :
39 points from 2 voters, including 1 gold medal (Mark Jackson) and 1 silver medal (Erik Arneson)
I had never heard of this 2016 Queen games release that sits at #3,903 in the BGG rankings, but clearly Mark and Erik think that I’ve missed something special here. Designers Chris Marling and David Thomson have done a few other games, but this is the one that the OG thinks you need to check out.
- Mark: This was one of those “surprise!” games at Essen 2016 – not a lot of fanfare, relatively unknown designers, etc. – but it continues to be one of my favorite auction-ish games for 3-4 players.
Imagine a three-way collision between the Mad Max films, an auction game, and a worker-placement city-building game. Throw in a little Notre Dame-ish fend off the invaders (marauders instead of rats). Workers can be used as currency for auctions (sending them out to build buildings and scavenge resources) or placed on your personal compound to defend against marauders and accomplish other tasks.
The artwork is evocative without leaning too hard into the dystopian grimness… and the iconography is very clear once you get the hang of it. I’ve found that it takes players 2-3 rounds (roughly half a game) to get acclimated and then they’re ready to defend their very tiny barb-wire encrusted empire.
I’ve been working on a review of this for nearly 3 years… don’t let my inability to get it finished keep you from trying this wonderful game. (And it’s still available at pretty decent prices!)
39 points from 2 voters, including 1 gold medal (Fraser McHarg) and 1 silver medal (RJ Garrison)
From an obscure Queen game from a few years ago, to a world renowned game from over 60 years ago. Diplomacy is actually tied with Armageddon, but I gave it the nod because… I love Diplomacy. I actually didn’t vote for it here because I think it is pretty well appreciated, but designer Allan B. Calhamer is a genius, as I wrote about back in 2009. Diplomacy is a truly brilliant and foundational design that everyone should play at least once with your six closest friends. This classic was also featured in Larry Levy’s recent Gaming Timeline: 1950-1959.
- RJ: I love this game. I’m not sure it’s even a game so much as a full day event with a bunch of friends that will hopefully still remain friends after playing. (I won’t play this with just anyone.) I find it’s best played in a large house with several rooms that have someone’s copy of the game set up in each room. This allows players to go and discuss around a map, plan their strategies, make deals and see what’s going to happen. The game is called “Diplomacy” for a reason and I’ve often heard that you have to lie and backstab friends in the game, but have found that with careful wording in negotiations as well as careful negotiations you can do quite well without lying or backstabbing at all.
(18) Was Sticht
40 points from 3 voters, including 1 bronze medal (Tery Noseworthy)
Karl Heinz-Schmiel does it again! This 1993 trick-taking game may just be the best trick-taking game ever, and it’s certainly underappreciated by all those Tichu and The Crew fans. While Karl may be known for Die Macher or Tribune, his work on Extrablatt and Was Sticht is what really sets him apart as an incredible designer. If you’ve ever wanted a trick-taking game where you weren’t at the mercy of the hand you’re dealt, then run to try Was Sticht, where you get to draft your hand (while trying to deduce the dominant suit) before then playing your hand.
- Tery: This is one of my top 10 games of all time. You better play well, because you can’t claim you got hosed by a bad deal you CHOSE that hand, so you have no one to blame but yourself. I love the puzzle of figuring out the trump(s) while you select cards, and then using those cards to try to achieve one of the goal chits you have. It’s tense in all the right ways. I am surprised no one has reprinted this.
41 points from 3 voters, including 1 silver medal (Brian Leet) and 1 bronze medal (RJ Garrison)
This epic 2013 civilization game by Yeon-Min Jung and Jun-Hyup Kim sure got a lot of attention and acclaim when it came out, but it seems to have disappeared from most people’s radar, sitting now down at #1,176 in the BGG rankings. Well, Brian and RJ would like you to remember this game! I scooped up Patchistory shortly after the 2013 BGG.CON and enjoyed the game 9 times, but then sold it during a large collection purge in 2017, which I somewhat regret since I wouldn’t mind giving it another go. It’s too bad my Clash of Civilization Games article was put together shortly before Patchistory came out because it would have compared favorably to Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game, Clash of Cultures, and even Through the Ages in some ways.
- Larry: I didn’t vote for this one, but I do think it’s an excellent and unappreciated Civ game. However, I haven’t played it since soon after its release, so it was kind of out of sight, out of mind. Still, it’s an innovative and dramatic game with an epic feel and deserves to be better known. The “patching” mechanic which is at the heart of the game is very clever and can now be found in quite a few other titles.
- Brian: This game has stayed in regular rotation as a three player game with a particular group of friends for the past seven years. It’s showing up so highly on my list is a reflection of my affinity for quirky games that do things just a little bit differently. At its heart it is an auction game, and the auctions are relatively direct, which would normally be a point against it. However, the cleverness of the patching, where you slowly expand on and cover over your prior plays is compelling. The game is filled with historical figures and technologies, and they each take a brief turn in the sun as you debate their merits in the set-up for each auction phase. This isn’t a game I’d recommend to everyone, but it deserves broader recognition and is worth a try if the theme and puzzle nature intrigue.
- RJ: This is one of my favorite Civ games that I never play. I think it’s design is quite fun and puzzley. It has a mechanic that doesn’t allow players to simply focus on just military or just technology, etc Instead, each player has to build all aspects of their civilization or they get penalized if they fall too far behind. I had it at one point, but sold it to help defray the cost of an engagement ring, so may have to add it back to the collection. What’s that? Did I hear a stimulus check arrive in the mail.
Now we start getting to the reasons that I created this list in the first place! Kreta is criminally underappreciated. This 2005 Stefan Dorra title from Goldsieber deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as El Grande. I firmly believe that El Grande is the area control game for 5 players, and Kreta is the quintessential area control game for 4 players (and San Marco for 3, and Louis XIV for 2). I’ve played it 27 times over the years, and it definitely stands the test of time. If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying this classic, then check out MaBiWeb for a digital implementation or the BGG market for one of those underpriced used copies.
- Patrick: Kreta resonates with me for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the box’s form factor is different from any other Goldsieber game I own – thin and skinny. But mostly because, in my opinion at least, this is the progenitor from which most ‘draft your hand to play over the course of the game’ titles drew inspiration. The role selection / eventually pick up all your roles and do it again mechanism that we all know and love from Concordia shows up here, albeit without the ability to add any more cards to your hand (your hand in this game is fixed from turn one). Add in some vicious territorial maneuvering, the ability to collect olives and cheese – what’s not to like?
(15) La Citta
42 points from 3 voters, including 2 gold medals (Greg Schloesser and Tery Noseworthy)
Two gold medals! This brilliant game by Gerd Fenchel was published in 2000 and received a Spiel des Jahres recommendation that year. It’s probably far too complicated even for a Kennerspiel nod these days. I personally rate this game a 10, which is a rating that I only give to 20 games (i.e., 1.1% of the 1,802 games that I’ve tried). La Citta is a Survival Game, which is a category I unsuccessfully tried to popularize back in 2008. Long before you were scraping by to feed your family in Agricola, you were farming and feeding in La Citta. At the same time, you were trying to woo your opponents’ people away, while hoping you could feed all of the people that you attracted. La Citta is a true gem.
- Brian: While this game didn’t quite make my voting list, it is a well deserved spot, and I’m glad to see it here. At the time it came out it was a remarkable level of quality and quantity for components for the price. La Citta is a game that everyone should give a try.
- Tery: I will never understand why this game is not more popular. I agree that Survival Game is the perfect category for this game. Feed your citizens, or they will leave, shrinking your city. You’d better let them bathe, too, or your city will grow. You’d also better try to read the tea leaves as to what they want, so that you can provide it better than your neighboring cities, or your fickle populace will relocate. It is one of my top 5 games of all time.
(14) Fast Food Franchise
This 1992 game by Tom Lehmann has a bunch of OG fans, including Joe Huber, Brian Leet, Tery Noseworthy, and Wei-Hwa Huang. I sadly don’t know anything about Fast Food Franchise, but I would love for one of them to teach it to me at a convention some day.
- Mark: Imagine if the designer of Race for the Galaxy decided to make a roll-and-move that both gamers & non-gamers could love… that combined some very Monopoly-ish elements with tactical board play. And then you can wake up and play it, because this is actually Tom Lehmann’s first game design!
- Brian: I can still recall speaking with Tom at Origins the year I purchased this game. I believe it was 1995 and FFF reflected a strong theory of making games which had enough of the familiar to be understandable, while introducing new elements that add strategy and depth. Fast Food Franchise succeeds by keeping the core Monopoly roll and move each turn play loop and adding key decisions about which franchises to launch, when to invest, when to advertise, and when to hold onto a cash reserve.
(13) Nexus Ops
I find myself recommending this 2005 Avalon Hill game to people more than almost any other game in existence. Any time I’m at a local game store and someone is looking for a short Risk-like game, I can’t help myself from talking up the virtues of Nexus Ops, even though it’s sadly hard to track down these days. The best part of Nexus Ops is the partnership variant where you play 2 vs. 2 in a team game. I adore the way that Nexus Ops discourages turtling and rewards aggression (in stark contrast to games like Twilight Imperium and Antike). Basically, Nexus Ops gives you everything that Twilight Imperium does but in 1 hour instead of 4+ hours.
- Mark: What Talia said… especially the part about turtling.
- Matt: Seconding all of the above. I also compare it favorably to Axis & Allies, as I love being able to buy whichever units I want at the time of purchase. (Nexus Ops gives you everything Axis & Allies gives you but in 1 hour instead to 2+ hours.) I also have minor bragging rights as I managed to sell a series of four strategy articles on the game to Wizards of the Coast. One of the few times I’ve actually been paid something in relation to boardgaming. (Hmm, they no longer seem to be around, I may have to post them over at BGG or something…)
(12) Mystery Rummy: Al Capone
43 points from 3 voters, including 1 bronze medal (Mark Jackson)
I’ve always felt like I was missing something by not having tried the Mystery Rummy series, and this helps confirm that feeling. I’ll have to find my way to trying Mystery Rummy, which was started by designer Mike Fitzgerald in 1998, but continued with five different games to date, including Al Capone in 2003, which Mark Jackson, Erik Arneson, and Greg Schloesser think we’re all underappreciating. If Mark, Erik, and Greg all think so, then I’m inclined to agree!
- Mark: This is my favorite of the Mystery Rummy series… mostly because it feels a bit like Canasta (possibly my favorite standard deck card game) in how difficult it is to hide key cards from your opponent(s). In my opinion, this is the easiest of the Mystery Rummy games to teach to non-gamers. Warning: while MR: Al Capone is a great 2-handed game and a wonderful partnership game, it drags on way too long with three players.
- Larry: I like all of the excellent Mystery Rummy games, but like Mark, this is probably my favorite. I love the fact that no card is safe, whether it’s in your hand, in a meld, or in the discard pile. Always enjoyable.
43 points from 5 voters, including 1 silver medal (Fraser McHarg)
This classic 2003 Z-Man release designed by Claudia Hely and Roman Pelek was another example of brutal farming long before Agricola made it cool. Santiago should be played with 5 players that don’t mind some cutthroat auctions that might well result in your crops withering and dying on the vine. The online implementation at SpielByWeb is good, but the real experience comes from sitting around a table and staring into the eyes of your fellow farmers as you wheedle and cajole your way to those much needed canals that carry the water of life and victory points. In a weird way, Santiago even helped inspire my own Supreme Court board game design.
- Larry: Yes, Santiago isn’t for those whose feelings are easily bruised. The design practically forces you to screw your opponents and that’s one of the reasons I like it so much. You’ve really got to analyze the game situation and figure out where that precious water will be coming from before you decide to go for the big bribe or sit back and let that bribe money trickle in. Great stuff and one of our go-to games with 5 players.
(10) Brew Crafters
43 points from 4 voters, including 1 gold medal (RJ Garrison)
I’m going to have to let RJ or the other OG contributors that voted for this 2013 game by Ben Rosset explain why this game deserves to be in the Top 10 of the most underappreciated board games of all time. I’ve never heard of it, so I can assure you that I don’t appreciate it. The BGG database tells me that if I like Castles of Mad King Ludwig and Suburbia, then I’ll like Brew Crafters. So is this a game for Ted Alspach fans that also love craft beer?
- RJ: I don’t see the connection to Castles or Suburbia. If anything, I find that Brew Crafters has scratches the same itch as Dinosaur Island. Actually, I find they are so similar in style of play, as much as I wanted Dinosaur Island, I found that I didn’t need both games and already had the amazing Brew Crafters. But the game is an excellent worker placement/ engine building/ build your brewery game. (Instead of a worker placement/ engine building/ build your own dinosaur park game).
- Tery: I don’t see the connection to Castles or Suburbia either, It’s a good engine builder with worker placement, and as a fan of craft beer I enjoy the theme. Plus it took me hours to punch out all those individual bottles of beer, so it is not going anywhere until it has been thoroughly played.
(9) Cheeky Monkey
45 points from 4 voters, including 1 bronze medal (Erik Arneson)
This 2007 Knizia design is certainly a classic push-your-luck game that has fallen by the wayside in recent years. If you want a rave for this underappreciated game, then check out this detailed review.
- Matt: I love breaking this out to play with non-gamers, and the legless monkey version is definitely the preferred version. If you want an Opinionated Gamer take on the game, you can check out my review on the site from back in 2013 which features one of the rare times W. Eric Martin chipped in with his opinion on a review.
(8) Schnappchen Jagd
45 points from 3 voters, including 1 silver medal (Greg Schloesser)
We sure love our trick-taking games at the OG. Yesterday, we gave the prize of our favorite recent game to The Crew, and today we regale you with the underappreciated nature of both Was Sticht and Schnappchen Jagd! This 1998 card game from Queen Games by Uwe Rosenberg was republished by Valley Games in 2010 as “Bargain Hunter.” When I have three-players and I’m looking for a trick-taking game then I would usually reach for Die Sieben Siegel, Bottle Imp, or Sticheln, rather than Schnappchen Jagd, but that’s just me. I guess the three-player trick-taking market is pretty crowded!
- Tery: I am a trick-taking fiend, and this one is one of my favorites. The theme does nothing for me, but the game itself is terrific. Trying to balance collecting sets while not taking too many cards you don’t want leads to an interesting game and scores that are all over the map. At the time it came out I wasn’t aware of other good 3 player trick taking games, so this seemed novel, but it had staying power and is a game I still play today.
(7) Stephensons Rocket
48 points from 4 voters, including 1 gold medal (Larry Levy)
I can’t believe Larry can now call himself a bigger Stephensons Rocket fan than me! I thought I was the biggest Stephensons Rocket fan in the world. Larry, who laughs at me for always bringing 1990s games like Stephensons and Lowenherz to game days, when he’s showing up with the latest hotness by Simone Luciani. I voted for Stephensons, and I rate the game a 10, but I didn’t give it quite as much love as Larry apparently. Of the 625+ games designed by Reiner Knizia, Stephensons Rocket is the best. This three-player 60-minute train game is just sublime. The veto mechanism is unparalleled, and even after 32 plays, I’m eager to play many more times. This is an unintuitive game, so make sure to play it a few times to get the hang of it, and also make sure to Always. Be. Vetoing.
- Larry: I’m not sure I love Stephenson’s more than Talia does, even though it’s one of my top 10 games of all time. But I do recognize that despite its greatness, it isn’t terribly well known in the gaming community and that’s a crime. I’m not sure I can say it much better than Talia did–it is Knizia’s masterpiece and the veto mechanism is perhaps my favorite in all of gaming. Because of it, you’re involved in every decision by every player it’s the ultimate in player interaction. No random factors, no hidden elements, and no alteration in the starting position–the beauty of its elegant rules and the players’ actions themselves somehow makes this play differently every time. It’s so easy to learn and so hard to master just a gem of a game. For God’s sake, just go out, find a copy, and play it!
(6) Before the Wind
48 points from 3 voters, including 1 gold medal (Talia Rosen) and 1 bronze medal (Alan How)
This game is actually the reason that I started this survey and list in the first place, so I’m thrilled to see it make the list with the assist from fellow fans Alan How and Simon Neale. Before the Wind (originally Vor dem Tor) is a 2007 game by Torsten Landsvogt, published by Phalanx and Mayfair, that packs an incredible amount of game into a small box card game. Don’t let the fairly drab artwork fool you, this is a highly interactive game that revolves around the core mechanism of extortion . You are tasked with setting prices for goods and actions that you’d be happy to pay but also happy to receive in exchange for basically missing your turn. After you set the price, your opponents get to pick what you’re stuck with. This is an agonizing and incredibly rewarding game that easily deserves to be in the Top 50 of all-time on BGG, not down at #2,202 in the rankings.
(5) Ora et Labora
50 points from 4 voters, including 1 silver medal (Tery Noseworthy)
As someone who despises this 2011 game by Uwe Rosenberg (and rates it a generous 4 out of 10), I’ll have to defer to my fellow OG contributors to explain to you what could possibly be underappreciated about this game that sits all the way up at #141 in the BGG rankings and #93 in the strategy rankings. I, for one, would argue that Ora et Labora is dramatically over-appreciated due to its fiddly and convoluted kitchen-sink gameplay. I suppose it’s no surprise that, according to BGG, fans of Ora et Labora also like the misery that is Vinhos, Glass Road, Bora Bora, and Trajan.
- Matt: I’m going with Talia on this one. I was excited to try out another Uwe Rosenberg game, but when I got it to the table it just seemed like there was a lot going on and not so much in a good way. It’s not broken or bad, and I’d be willing to play it again, but there are many others higher in the queue.
- Larry: I didn’t vote for Ora because I don’t think it’s underappreciated after all, it was the 17th ranked game on the Geek for a while. But it is a brilliant game and in my all-time Top 10. It’s absolutely fired Le Havre for me and Le Havre is quite a good game, but I can’t imagine playing it while Ora is in the world. As for it being fiddly, it deals with resources in a much simpler manner than earlier Rosenberg games, thanks to it being the game where Uwe introduced the resource wheel, a time-saver that has been a part of his designs ever since. I do have to be at the top of my game to play this, but I adore it whenever I do. It’s Rosenberg’s masterpiece in my book and that’s awfully high praise.
- Tery: When I voted for this I did not realize it was so well ranked on the Geek. I feel like I don’t know a lot of people who know it or like it if they do know it. I particularly love Ora et Labora as a 3 player game. Sure, it’s fiddly – but no more fiddly than most Rosenberg games. Sure, you’re acquiring lands, farming and building like you do in a lot of Rosenberg games, but this has some different mechanics that give it a different feel, and Rosenberg excels at putting a different twist on a theme. Do not play this with 2 players, though, even though the rules will tell you it’s okay. It does not work.
51 points from 3 voters, including 1 gold medal (Wei-Hwa Huang) and 1 silver medal (Larry Levy)
Tom Lehmann strikes again with his second entry on the list. I’m sure Wei-Hwa or Larry will jump in to explain the virtues of Phoenicia to you. I vaguely remember trying this game once almost 10 years ago. It looks like Phoenicia is readily available, so this is one of the rare underappreciated games on this list that you can easily pick up and try if you’re interested.
- Larry: Most people consider Race for the Galaxy to be Lehmann’s masterpiece, but for me, it will always be Phoenicia. It’s a fairly straightforward economic game based around the auctioning of cards and the actions necessary to best develop them. But it’s superbly balanced and has many paths to victory, including the rare feat of providing players who have fallen behind in the early turns a path they can follow. The game is jam-packed with good and refined ideas and plays very quickly. Unfortunately, the publisher did a hatchet job on both the game’s graphics and its rules (Tom’s simple prototype looked much better and was infinitely easier to learn), which doomed the game to being quickly forgotten. But there is a small, but very loyal fanbase, who can see the brilliance of the game in spite of its surface flaws. So yes, Phoenicia is very much an underappreciated gem, but there are good (and tragic) reasons for that.
55 points from 4 voters, including 1 bronze medal (Greg Schloesser)
The other 1990s game that I still bring to game events all the time (in addition to Stephensons Rocket mentioned earlier). While Stephensons is the classic game for three players, Lowenherz is the classic game for four players. They’re both pretty confrontational, some might say nasty, but they’re an incredibly engaging way to spend 60-90 minutes. These games came long before multiplayer solitaire had taken over the German-style scene. I’d argue that Lowenherz is the best Klaus Teuber design, but don’t play it without a full complement of four players. Much like Before the Wind, Lowenherz has you bargaining and negotiating over price in a winner-take-all phone booth that routinely leaves players out in the cold with no action, no turn, and no mercy. You might as well write “Not for the Faint of Heart” on the box.
59 points from 4 voters, including 1 bronze medal (Simon Neale)
Wow! The “other” William Attia game comes in as a surprise entry near the top of today’s list. Following up the 2005 mega-hit of Caylus was always going to be a challenge, but 2013’s Spyrium certainly has its many fans at the OG. I sold my copy many years ago after playing it 5 times, so I’ll need to lean on Simon, Larry, Wei-Hwa, and Greg to detail the virtues of this steampunk worker placement game.
- Larry: Spyrium is an unassuming game: 72 simply illustrated cards, some meeples, and a handful of other components. And yet that somehow houses a wonderfully refined and highly variable economic game. The heart of the game is the auction. 9 cards are laid out in a 3ࡩ array each round and the players place their meeples between them. Instead of placing a meeple, you can remove one of yours, either to buy a card next to it (at a penalty for each other meeple that’s next to it) or to earn money (equal to the number of meeples next to the card). That mechanism alone is brilliant, as the process becomes an intricate game of chicken and anticipating moves. But the actions you can take with the cards are equally interesting. The real marvel is that despite the fact that nearly all the cards are used every game, each session plays very differently. It’s a superb design, that sadly never managed to emerge from Caylus’ giant shadow. But as good as Caylus is, for me, Spyrium is Attia’s best game.
(1) Reef Encounter
Richard Breese claims the top spot with his beautiful 2005 game inspired by David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet. This thematically quirky tile-laying game of parrot shrimp, algae cylinders, polyp tiles, and larva cubes has engendered a lot of lovely creativity in the creative image gallery on BGG. Whether you’re playing the gorgeous pastel original or the deeply saturated reprint, you’re in for a great game of battling shrimp that is vaguely reminiscent of Tigris & Euphrates, but with an almost stock market feel as you invest in different colors of varying and shifting values. The OG collectively thinks that Reef Encounter is the most underappreciated game of all time, so if you haven’t tried it out, then add it to your list to track down and see what this classic is all about.
- Matt: I’m all behind this one, if no other reason than enjoying the game description to a non-gamer. “OK, you play as a reef, right? And then you try to bargain for various bit of algae and polyps, hoping to score the occasional lobster….” Allright, a second soft spot from the game comes from the fact that it was the first game I ever imported from Europe, back when only some of the European games ever made it to this side of the pond. That also means I get to play on the lovely pastel version.
Opinionated Gamer Comments
Talia Rosen: While my gold medal game (Before the Wind) thankfully made the list, my silver medal game (In the Shadow of the Emperor) and my bronze medal game (Rapa Nui) both sadly missed the cut, as did a couple of my other top choices – Extrablatt and the eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game. If you want a game like Kreta but more complicated and involved then play In the Shadow of the Emperor, which is a phenomenal 2004 area control game by Ralf Burkert and Hans im Gluck. The clever aging of your units in this game makes it a tense and engaging affair. Rapa Nui is a 2011 stock market game by Klaus Jurgen-Wrede of Carcassonne fame that excels as a 40-minute two-player experience. Extrablatt is Karl Heinz-Schmiel’s oft-overlooked 1991 masterpiece of newspaper layout. And the eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game is legitimately a solid auction game for three players up there with the likes of Ra.
Jonathan Franklin: If you play Pitch Car or Carabande regularly, you might want a copy of the eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game, as it also works to determine the next player to flick.
Simon Neale: My top choices of Karnag and Rockwell unfortunately didn’t make the cut. Both of these games are early releases from Sit Down Games which has since focussed on lighter family and party style games. Karnag is an unusual worker placement game where the physical location of where you place pieces on the board impact how the game plays out. Rockwell has a circular board representing a cut through the Earth where players sink mine shafts to extract ores as they journey towards the Earth’s core. My bronze medal of Spyrium made the cut and rightly so. Here is what looks like a simple card tableau game where you place workers to activate/buy adjacent cards. However there is a lot of hidden depth and tactics in Spyrium to keep the most hardened gamer on their toes.
Joe Huber: With these polls, I have to decide how I want to interpret the goal. In this case, I decided that any game ranked 5000+ on BGG was underappreciated, and then selected my twenty favorite games to fall into that bucket. There are a number of games on this list which I enjoy – and two of my all-time favorites – but they didn’t meet my criteria. The only game which made this list which I voted for was Fast Food Franchise, one of the games I’ve had the pleasure of playing over 100 times – and probably losing over 100 times, too. Though The King of Frontier just missed the cut, and another game that I think should have a much larger audience than it does – and which is far superior, in my opinion, to the redeveloped version, Skylands.
Mark Jackson: A number of my nominees didn’t make it… including Frank Branham’s terrific space opera homage Battle Beyond Space, Heinz Meister’s press-your-luck-fest Nur Peanuts!, and the most maligned of Uwe’s pre-Agricola card games, the wonderfully cruel (and badly named in English) Klunker. I’d also put in plugs for a number of wonderful children’s games I had on my list, including Hallo Dachs, Die Kullerbande, Mole in the Hole, and Konig der Maulwurfel. (Kid games get routinely underrated… which is sad.)
Alan How: This list features some of my favourite games. Or at least ones that I’d be delighted to play anytime soon. Preferable very soon. Reef Encounter is just such a clever game but one that preceded the Key series. I haven’t played in such a while. I remember Phoenicia coming out as it was my first experience of The Gathering but the presentation could not disguise the quality of the game. Before the Wind was a great surprise not just for this list but for me when I first encountered it. I immediately bought more copies for friends as I thought it was a fantastic game that packed a lot in such a small box. Mystery Rummy is my go to game for playing games with my wife. I remember the amazing interest in Patchistory at Essen when it was released. It was beyond hot! But now it’s on the cooling down side of a game’s life. Worth trying every so often. Was Sticht does not belong on this list in my view as it surely must be appreciated, but I suspect it is low in awareness now because of its age. It’s a brilliant design.
Mary Prasad: OK, it has been a while since I’ve contributed to OG (it’s been an especially rough year, as I’m sure it has been for everyone!), but here goes… I’ve enjoyed quite a few of the games on this list, although several are just too confrontational/mean for my tastes (I’m looking at you Diplomacy!). I remember enjoying La Citta – a game that I need to pull out and try again. I’ve enjoyed most of the Mystery Rummy games (aside: the designer is also a wonderfully interesting and nice guy – it is a real treat playing one of his games with him because he gives you the history and stories behind it I definitely appreciate Mystery Rummy so much more after playing with Mike!). Cheeky Monkey is a light, fun game with cool poker chips. I love to introduce people to this game – it’s great for non-gamers and gamers alike. Ora et Labora is one of my favorite games – it has a lot of the mechanisms I enjoy (engine building, resource management, worker placement). I much prefer it to Le Havre. I also enjoy the top four in this list but Phoenicia would probably be my favorite. Spyrium is one we’ve played a lot online (my husband and I were playing online board games long before it was cool… a couple of friends who lived near us moved to another state long ago we have been playing with them online every week for well over 10 years!).
Matt Carlson: I’ve left comments on specific games above, but here’s some thoughts on the ones that didn’t make the cut. First, another shout out (along with Mark) that childrens’ games are far too often underrated. I highly recommend the chaos that is Igloo Pop. I didn’t vote for it but “coconut”-flicking monkey game Coconuts is also a great draw. I could see how some would consider two I rated highly, Hansa Teutonica and In the Year of the Dragon, are not under-appreciated. I would counter that perhaps they’re not appreciated enough. Hansa Teutonica has the most angst-ridden turns as to whether to pursue points or improvements. Meanwhile, I describe In the Year of the Dragon as “Bad stuff happens every round. Try to minimize all the bad stuff happening to you, in the hopes it will hurt your opponents even worse.” Hmm, I guess that makes both of them rather angsty. Am I a gamer equivalent of Goth? (I do own both the black version of Risk and of King of Tokyo…)
Brian Leet: It is worth mentioning how these lists develop. Generally there is idle chatter among the group which inspires some ambitious individual (Talia in this case) to rise to the challenge of pulling together a post. The initial survey is then populated either by early respondents or the question originator – additional games may be listed as people give their responses. We can all go back and adjust our votes as much as we want, but the reality is that I’m not sure that those who respond early always go back at the end to check – I certainly know I don’t.
I mention this to reinforce that there is no overarching rule on what games might be picked, or even which games might come to mind, and certainly no rules about the criteria used in consideration. It is a true free-for-all. That’s a lot of words to say I have no idea how some of the games I would have thought already well-regarded ended up on this list. As to my own procedure – I selected those which had the largest delta between my ranking and the BGG rank for my top 100 games.
Larry Levy: There’s a reasonably close alignment with my picks and the overall list, which surprises me a bit. I only voted for 10 games–my tastes aren’t that far off the mainstream, or at least what used to be the mainstream, so I don’t have tons of games I feel are grossly underappreciated. Five of those were included in the group’s top 7 games: the four I commented on, plus Lowenherz, for which I felt Talia said everything I would have said. There are plenty of other games on the list I like, but which I feel are reasonably well regarded. My top 5, by the way, are Stephenson’s, Phoenicia, Medici vs. Strozzi (an extremely underappreciated game, in my opinion, as I view it as Knizia’s last great design), Spyrium, and Wallace’s Automobile. I’m particularly gratified to see Spyrium do so well in the poll, as I think it’s a terrific game that, despite the fame of its designer, simply isn’t that well known.
Methodology: Each voter picked up to 20 games, giving 20 points to their top choice (gold medal), followed by 19 points to their second choice (silver medal), 18 points to their third choice (bronze medal), 17 points to their fourth choice, and so on. Voters were allowed to select any 20 games that they wanted (which resulted in 111 different games getting votes). The points from all 16 voters were added together to come up with the ranking above.
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3 Problems to Remember When Trying to Find Atlantis - History
Determined not to make race his focus, the issue remained at the center of the policies closest to Obama’s heart.
Ever mindful of the barrier he broke as the first African American president of the United States, Barack Obama and his staffers remain hopeful about what his historic election will continue to mean for generations down the line.
I think my legacy as the first African American president falls in a few different categories. Number one, it was a measure of the progress we’ve made as a country. And I always joke with my friends—the first time might have been an accident. When they reelected me with the majority, that indicated that at that point, having seen me—warts and all—during some really difficult times, then [be] willing to put me back in office, shows that a majority of the American people really do try to make decisions based on the person’s qualities and merits rather than their race.
Even if President Obama had done nothing in eight years, you’ve still got millions of kids who've never known a white president. That’s a big deal.
Growing up…it was inconceivable to me that in my lifetime there would be an African American president. To my children, who are now teenagers, it seems like the most normal thing in the world.
[His election] made me feel good about our country. My mom grew up in a very segregated Chicago and my dad, same thing here in DC. And I listened to them tell stories about the discrimination they both experienced, even though they came from families that were well-educated and they both had great educations and were accomplished academics. Still, when my mom traveled to Tuskegee, [she] had to stay in people’s homes, you couldn't stay in a hotel. And my father went to Dunbar High School in DC, which was the best high school, one of the best in the country, but it was all black because that was the only option available to him. And so they never thought this could happen.
The history of that election. I mean, it’s hard to comprehend that essentially, thirty-five years before, people like Barack Obama had a hard time eating at lunch counters and riding on buses and participating in the electoral process.
The impact it has on kids, certainly African American kids who, in some cases, have only known an African American president. It gives them, hopefully, a sense that there aren’t ceilings or barriers to what they can achieve. But also, a whole lot of white kids out there who came to feel as if there’s nothing surprising about somebody of color in positions of authority. That creates, hopefully, a set of better understandings and greater unity in generations to come, even if, in the short term, there was also some backlash or pushback to having an African American president in the White House.
I’ll never forget right before he was inaugurated in 2009, the concert on the Lincoln Memorial steps…we were about to have our first African American president there in the shadow of Lincoln. It was an awe-inspiring moment.
In March of 2008, in the heat of the Democratic primary, Obama’s long-time Chicago pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, gave a speech at the National Press Club that was filled with racial invectives and accusations. Some thought it would be the end of Obama’s chances to win the nomination. Then came the candidate’s now-historic speech on race in America—A More Perfect Union—which he delivered in Philadelphia on March 18. As Obama says now, he hoped to show the nation that when it comes to the complicated subject of race, there is no black and no white—just an awful lot of gray.
When I hear criticism of him not raising racial issues, I think back to that speech in Philadelphia during the campaign. What other presidential candidate ever had that forthright a conversation about race? Even before he became president, he set out who he was and what his thoughts were about race and through the course of this administration, he’s been consistent.
The speech was, in part, prompted by crisis. The pastor of our church in Chicago, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, was a brilliant preacher, acknowledged not just within African American circles, but among many people who study theology and the church and the power of sermons that he was one of the best around. And [he] had built this magnificent church that was doing all kinds of good work in the community. But generationally, he came out of the 60s, and still had the anger and frustrations and in some cases, the overly simplistic views borne out of that age. There would be times where his sermons would go into places that were offensive. I wasn’t aware of them, but a couple of those sermons popped up. I hadn’t been sitting there when they happened and, understandably, they raised concerns.
Reverend Wright was like a nuclear bomb dropped on our campaign in Chicago it was the toughest thing we dealt with. We weren’t prepared for it and we were scrambling. Honestly, I’d say most of us in the campaign didn’t have a lot of great ideas. Some people were in fetal positions. I mean, it was a hit to the main engine.
The thought [was], Let’s send him out on the cable shows, give him some talking points. We’ll have him do a round of interviews and then, hopefully, he can get past it. And I remember watching those interviews and thinking, This is not something you can explain in a quick cable interview. And I think Obama thought that, too, because he told [David] Axelrod [then chief strategist for the campaign] and Plouffe that he wanted to give a speech.
It was unknown and you didn't how it was going to go. And that wasn't a time in the campaign where we were riding high.
I remember trying to put all of this together into one statement, and none of us could get it right. We did the best that we could. We got a draft down and it was okay, it wasn't great. I remember [Obama] walked in and he looked at the statement and he said, “Guys…you have to tell the American people the truth. And you have to let the chips fall where they may. And if people decide that I should not be their president because of the things that my pastor has said, then that’s the decision that they’ll make. But in times like this when everything is on the line you just can't spin.”
The reaction, initially, of a lot of my team was to simply disown [Reverend Wright] and not try to speak in a complicated way to the American people. The notion was that in this sound bite age, that was a losing proposition. I decided that, actually, this was a useful moment to try to put in context the complexities of race relations in modern America.
It was Barack Obama who calmly decided that the only way to deal with this [was] to sail right into it—“I’m going to work on a speech and…deliver it and try to put this in context. And it may not satisfy people and I may lose, but I’m not just going to do this by going out and giving some interviews and pretending it’s not going to happen. I’ve got to deal with it head on.” My admiration for him really grew in that moment.
It was something he’d clearly thought about for a very, very long time. [We] talked for about an hour on the phone. and I sat there and I typed every single word he said. Then I went to bed and I woke up at 6 am, went to Starbucks and wrote the first draft. And sent it to him that night and at 3 am I get an email back with all track changes. On Monday I made all those changes and I sent it back to him Monday night and then again at 3 in the morning, he sent an email to me, Axelrod, Plouffe and Valerie [Jarrett] and it says “here’s the final speech. Favs, you can make edits for grammar or rhythm or change words here and there, but the substance of this, I don’t want anyone to change. This is what I want to say”.
The calmness, the deliberate way he dealt with that, the courageous way he dealt with that, that’s what you want in someone sitting in the Oval Office in the Situation Room, but that was all Barack Obama. I mean, he came up with our strategy. He decided what we were going to do.
I remember he stayed up all night writing, trying to get this thing perfect. I kept the copy of it, all the edits he made, and there were pages and pages of edits.
I did my best to try to describe how it is that you could have somebody who is very intelligent and did wonderful work and had all kinds of great white friends and had served in our military and yet still spoke with great bitterness about American racism in American history. [I] also tried to explain why there might be white people who were wonderful and thoughtful and cared deeply about their African American friends—and I included in that my own grandmother, the person who loved me as much as anybody and had as much to do with my success as anybody – but could still have their own blind spots and biases.
I went to a small Baptist church in Charlotte called Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. The community was such a strong piece of it. It helps to define you, it gives you hope, and sometimes it gives you opportunity that you don’t necessarily get in a normal social context of the entire country. Reverend Wright had helped [the president] to grow and to develop. I’m sure everyone has had someone who’s been close to them who has said something that wasn’t politically correct. Everyone’s got the old grandmother who has an opinion about someone who doesn’t look like them or sound like them. And you don’t kick them out at Christmas dinner because they say something nutty.
Reverend Wright’s comments didn't just have a racial element to them. There was also an issue of patriotism, because he said some pretty disparaging things about America. When you combine toxic comments about race and patriotism, it’s hard to imagine how that ends well. The instinct of so many political figures would have been to downplay it, to hope it would go away or to just say, “I disavow this, I disavow this guy, and I'm moving on.” I don't think that would've worked as well, actually.
The topic of race—it makes people uncomfortable. And in the context of the toxicity with which the press and everyone was covering what Reverend Wright had said, [the question was] Could he come in there and make sense in the chaos? And his view was, That’s when you most need to speak up.
The novel idea that Obama had was, Let me go out there and actually explain the whole context of everything that happened, offer some perspective, offer some sense of history. And I'm going to trust that the American people will understand it. And that bet paid off.
His willingness to say: “Look, if I want the American people to vote for me as president, they have to really understand who I am. And so let me tell them a story at a time when many of them are troubled about who I am.”
There were parts of the country that saw this candidacy as a way to move the country forward. Others were trying to use it as a moment—whether it was a dog whistle or flat out playing on racial fears and anxieties. For him to step out and talk in a personal way about his history, his family, his experience, what that meant, and, as a result, what it meant to be an American, and to exist in the country and deal with these issues. It was a critical and transformative moment, not just for the campaign. We had never, ever had a moment where you had someone running for office at that level who was an African American man talking about issues of race in that way. To do it at such a pivotal moment, when he knew his candidacy was on the line. But [he] felt, in spite of advice he was getting from lots of different quarters, that he had to do it.
I really took a step back and recognized, I am a white woman working on the campaign of an African American man. And more important than gender is race. I can't possibly understand everything he’s been through or people who have grown up dealing with discrimination based on race. That’s not an experience I had. So there are moments, like the race speech, where I have to take a step back and recognize, I actually can't relate and understand the thinking. And that’s unique to this presidency.
[The president] called to check in and I said, “You know, man. I think this whole Jeremiah Wright thing could be a blessing in disguise.” And he started laughing, then he told Valerie, who was sitting next to him, and she started laughing, and they were just rolling and laughing and I said, “Look, there’s a hurdle in front of you that no other candidate has an opportunity to clear. You clear this hurdle, you’re president of the United States.” And he stopped laughing and he said, “‘I guess I’ve got to give the speech.’ And I said, “I guess you’ve got to give the speech.”
He really wanted to talk about what was in his heart. He wrote the speech. It was a remarkable moment and we didn’t know if he’d survive it.
The idea was to try to get America to see these issues, not in simple black and white terms—pun intended—but to see that how we’ve evolved in race is complicated it doesn’t travel in a straight line, but that the trajectory is good. The trajectory is positive, and that rather than hunker down in our own respective corners, we need to be more generous and try to assume the best in people as opposed to the worst, even as we stand up for principles that we think are important.
There are two elements that he got absolutely right, which is that today, things are not perfect. But we’ve come a really long way in a very short period of time, when you look at the history of our country and the history of rights and equality.
I remember standing there waiting for the speech to begin, and knowing how much work had gone into it and not really knowing how people would perceive it. Then hearing [it] was a moment that I thought, I knew this guy was special because I moved to Chicago to work for him, but this is a moment so unique that I don’t think has happened in history and may not happen in the future.
It was a powerful moment, just hearing these issues addressed in a personal way from your friend, but in a way that everybody in America could relate to.
I think people want to see their presidents tested, particularly someone like Barack Obama, who was young, hadn’t been on the national scene. People were watching him very carefully. And so people kicked his tires and I think a lot of people might have withered under that, but he rose. I don’t want to suggest we turned it into an opportunity. We survived it. But I think people very much respected the way he dealt with that.
He was probably the only person in the universe who could give that speech at that moment and he did it so powerfully and eloquently, in plain English, and allowed people to really have a perspective on race in America that I don’t think had ever been articulated.
He gave it in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. Is anyone going to be paying attention? It certainly broke through. The president called me right afterwards and he said, “I don't know if I can get elected saying the things I did about race today. But I also know that if I was too afraid to say them, I don’t deserve to be elected.”
Despite Barack Obama’s willingness to tackle the issue of race head on in Philadelphia, over the years, some said that the issue of race was too much submerged, that the president was reluctant to directly address the issue of race in America in his agenda.
A lot of us are defensive about the notion that he’s new to these issues or that he’s been late to these issues. These have been the very issues that have animated his career, from his first voter registration drive on the south side of Chicago or his first time organizing people in housing projects in Chicago. People who have had to live in less forgiving environments—that’s been his cause throughout.
I focused on what needed to be focused on in my first term: making sure we rescued the economy from a Great Depression, following through on my promise to provide healthcare to people who didn’t have it, making sure we were expanding opportunities for students to go to college. There were just a series of urgent issues that had to be addressed that were important to everybody—black, white, Hispanic, Asian. What is true is that I did not focus my policy initiatives on issues that would help African Americans alone. Primarily, the most important thing I could do for the African American or Latino community at that time was to make sure they had a job and a home and weren’t losing everything they’d worked so hard for.
The president often said: If America caught a cold, communities of color got the flu. If he started to attack issues of poverty, healthcare, education…to reform the most troubled schools that are predominantly educating students of color, he was addressing the issues in the policy.
Historically, when minority groups have done best in this country and when we’ve made the most progress on race, it’s been because we spoke to the entire country about universal values, universal principles initiated universal programs designed to provide opportunity, because minority groups are the ones who are most likely to suffer from lack of opportunity or poverty or lack of health insurance. They benefit disproportionately, and it helps level the playing field.
In hindsight, people will see that his administration did great things for people of color. This notion that somehow he was reluctant to engage in a conversation about racial matters [or] won’t take a position is belied by the accomplishments of his administration.
What didn’t get a lot of attention was we reinvigorated the Office of Civil Rights and Voting Rights in the Justice Department. To initiate policies and agencies like the Agricultural Department or the Education Department, that addressed what might have been inequities or lack of fairness. We did it the old fashioned way, not with a lot of fanfare, but, rather, by fixing problems and grinding away. And so, I continue to believe that was the right strategy for us to accomplish everything we accomplished.
The shooting death of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, heightened racial tensions in the country at the beginning of president Obama’s second term. The 17-year-old African American high school student was killed by George Zimmerman, who was “neighborhood watch captain” for the gated community where Martin had been walking, heading home to his father’s house.
I remember being in the Oval Office right before he went out to a press conference on a different subject and he was so upset about this young boy—“He was just walking down the street with some Skittles in his hand. How could this happen to him? Where have we gone as a civilization that this poor child, who wasn't in the wrong place, he was heading home, how could this happen to him?”
I’ve got a son. He was younger than [Trayvon Martin], but I had the talk with my son to tell him how he is supposed to interact with the police. You know, somebody comes to you with a gun, how you’re supposed to interact with those people.
[The president and I] were having a conversation about it and he said, “You know, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” And everyone sort of sat back, and he said, “I'm going to say that.” And everyone was kind of quiet because people were [wondering], Should he say that or not? But no one was going to tell him not to say that.
And he had said to us, “If I had a son, he would look just like him. That’s why I'm so upset about this, because all of our children deserve to be safe.” And it was very deeply personal to him. That’s what caused him to go out and address the press and make that comment to try to get people to understand that even the son of the president of the United States might not be safe unless we make some progress here.
In my second term, what you ended up seeing are issues so specific to race relations—most notably, the police shootings of African American men or boys. It became more urgent to speak directly to how do we address those issues. It wasn’t that those issues were avoided in the first term. It’s just that they did not surface.
I remember being in church shortly after [the shooting of Martin] and the sermon was about how you prepare your sons to deal in a world where this could happen to them. It was hard not to have a very personal reaction. More as a citizen than as White House staffer, I viewed the president’s remarks as, That’s right what he says, and it’s right for him to give that context to this.
I’ve heard stories [from him] about cabs not stopping, women moving to the side of an elevator, and the whole range of things you have to deal with as an African American man. He, the president of the United States, certainly had to deal with those things.
What the president really understood is that part of the hurt and anger and disappointment and sadness that so many were feeling in the African American community was a sense that for young men of color, this is increasingly an all-too-common aspect of life—being suspected of being a criminal of some kind. Being caught up in these situations with the criminal justice system. Not having certain opportunities, whether educational or economic…The president felt like the difference between his circumstances and a lot of these young men that he had such empathy for, was that he grew up in a more forgiving environment. He could make mistakes, he was surrounded with support systems. He was given second chances. And he wanted to think about how we make this environment more forgiving for more young men of color. How can we get at some of these issues that are really at the bottom [of] the anger and the hurt and the sadness and the grief?
Do people know what it’s like to be in New York and have…a cab not pull over and pick you up? Or for somebody to assume you’re security because you’re African American and tall, or whatever? Granted, none of that stuff hurts his feelings, but I think a lot of people don’t have that perspective on what it’s like to be an African American male in this country. And if you don’t have that perspective, it’s hard to understand why some of this race stuff looks and feels the way it does.
In an address in the Rose Garden, on March 23, 2012, the president weighed in on the Trayvon Martin shooting, talking about race in a more personal way than he had since before he’d taken office.
Those remarks, I thought, were really revealing. They were extemporaneous. They were from the heart. That was something he personally felt, something I personally felt, and I thought those remarks were really a view into the soul of this president.
I admit, I've been one of those people where sometimes I say, “I think this might go too far, push too many buttons.” And usually he’s the one who says, “If we don’t say it, who will?” I think his kind of self-imposed fear of talking about it openly and honestly has diminished over time.
George Zimmerman’s acquittal, in July of 2013, sparked protests across the country, as President Obama initially called for calm. Soon after, the president spoke about the matter in a more passionate, very personal way, in an unscheduled briefing at the White House.
The first response was sort of traditional—a statement on the verdict and support for the family of Trayvon Martin. And that, to a lot of people, was not satisfactory. Part of that was because the president had spoken so personally and honestly about it when Trayvon was first killed. I think a lot of people thought, Is this really going to be it?
And it became immediately clear to us that the president intended to speak about this. He hadn't really discussed it with us, so I don't think many of us really knew what he was going to say. We knew that he wanted to find an opportunity to offer some reflections on the verdict.
The president went into the briefing room and he was very emotional. He didn't comment on the verdict itself but really focused on what is happening in our society, that a young black man can't walk down the street without creating fear and a sense of danger. And he said we should all do some soul-searching and figure out what we can do collectively and individually to change that, so that all of our children can grow up and get that fair shot at life and not have their life snuffed out early.
Presidents like to present a very clearly thought-out proposal before they tell you that they're going to propose something. But in his case, it was really an honest and open thought. In the briefing room, he said, “I think there are things we can do…And he started to outline a series of things. And I got a notepad out and was actually writing down a lot of what he was saying.
That conversation led to him challenging his team: What can we do, particularly for boys and young men of color who are disproportionally not reading by third grade? Who are being expelled and suspended from school at a higher rate? Who are entering the juvenile justice system and then the criminal justice system at disproportionally high rates? The deck is stacked against them. What can we do to change that paradigm?
It was really about, How do we take this tragedy and turn it into an opportunity? How do we make sense of the senseless? I think the president really, really wanted this not to just be another young black man who was murdered and we’d forget his name and whatever lessons we could learn, we didn't learn.
And that led to the creation of My Brother’s Keeper.
The president said, “If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago and that child is struggling, that matters to me even if it’s not my child. I am my brother’s keeper.” And he recalled that line right there from his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention. And it became clear to me instantly that that’s what we were going to call what we were trying to do. We’re just going to call it My Brother’s Keeper.
When we were thinking about designing the initiative, we thought about it on two planes: What can the government do? What can the private sector and the NGO sector and the philanthropic sector…do through resources or research or data? And one of the things that happened was establishing My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which is an outside entity divorced from the White House. It’s not just the work of government, this is the work of all of us. And I would imagine the president will pick up that baton when he leaves the White House.
Another unarmed African American teenager, Michael Brown, was shot and killed on August 9, 2014, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. As with the Trayvon Martin shooting, protests broke out, taking on renewed intensity when a St. Louis grand jury failed to indict Wilson a few months later.
There were street demonstrations that were growing larger and larger, day by day. We were all up at Martha’s Vineyard on vacation and we had a couple of meetings at the house where the president was staying.
The more we were hearing about the frustration and anger on the ground, it felt as though someone’s presence was necessary. And I said, “Who better than Eric Holder to go? He’s the chief law enforcement officer for the country and so has respect of law enforcement, yet he’s an African American man who has devoted his life to civil rights and has the respect of the community there. And so the president agreed that it made sense for Eric to go.
The vice president let me use his plane. I flew out there on Air Force Two and I remember walking down the stairs and thinking, “Alright, here we go. We’ll see what happens.”
The only times [the president has] held back on race are a situation like Ferguson, where speaking out may enflame tensions. There are times as president where he had to take into account the safety of a city or an open investigation and so he couldn't just sort of go out there and say whatever he wanted or shoot from the hip. He had to very carefully calibrate his words.
One of the things that really struck me as we went through the series of meetings, talking to students, community groups, talking to Michael Brown’s parents, was a consistent theme about how the criminal justice system there was being used inappropriately: directed largely at people of color, poor people as a way in which they could raise money through fines and through bench warrants, to raise money so that the government could run itself. And people talked about how they were mistreated by the police. It was a constant theme I remember hearing hour after hour during the course of that day, and the feelings expressed to me by those people [were] certainly found to be true in the report the Justice Department issued about the criminal justice system in Ferguson.
The division in how people see the world—the sense on the part of African Americans that the criminal justice system isn’t fair, and it’s not a matter of paranoia to be concerned about it. And the perception on the part of whites: Why are you attacking the police that keep us safe? We have great trust in them. That was and continues to be a very difficult issue to bridge.
During a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof, a local landscaper, shot and killed nine African American participants there in the church basement. Later, Roof’s journal entries said he hoped to start a “race war.” Roof was found guilty of all 33 charges against him, and in January 2017, he was formally sentenced to death.
It began as mass shootings do around here, this horrible routine where you get an email from the Situation Room and cable news starts covering, there’s been a shooting at a church in Charleston…[and] you find out that a white person went to the basement of a black church and killed a bunch of people.
At the time the president decided to speak in Charleston, the country was still reeling from this atrocious act. How could a young man walk into a black church, [be] welcomed into that black church, participate in a prayer study group, then at the end of that study group, pull out a weapon and shoot so many people? And 21 years old, basically just beyond childhood himself. What could make a person hate that much at such a relatively young age? And that’s the question I think America was grappling with.
And then something extraordinary happened. The relatives of the deceased, one by one in a courtroom [at a bond hearing for the accused], forgave the murderer. And the president heard that and said, “Wow. That’s what we can talk about.”
For those who worship in a black church, I think it was an opportunity for [the president] to describe what they know every day, which is notwithstanding a horrible history of attacks and bombings and murders in the black church, part of what makes it strong is its willingness to keep the door open. And he thought he could take that horrendous act and teach about the grace that comes from the black church. And the people who were so shocked at how forgiving the family members were just a couple days after they lost the most important person in their life, that they could go and say we forgive you, that was stunning to so many people. Except the people who worship in a black church. They understood that.
I give him a draft [of the speech] the night before and went home, put on some jeans, ordered pizza. I get a call at 9 o'clock asking if I could come back to the office. So I go back to the office. He’d crossed out the entire back two pages of the speech, not even made edits, just crossed them out. He kept the first three pages intact, largely, then I'd written in just the first couple of lines of Amazing Grace, some passages we’d been talking about. How…in the courtroom was grace. And he took that and made it the rest of the speech. He’d done it in about five hours on yellow legal paper and it just made me feel like a chump that he’s that good.
His willingness to go into an emotionally raw and painful situation and his ability to lift us all up, not just to feel better but to be inspired to act. Because if you'll remember, it was just at the time that [South Carolina] Governor [Nikki] Haley decided to take down the Confederate flag [from the State House grounds], right after this horrible act. And [the president] said, “Yes, that’s an important symbolic gesture.” It was a reminder to so many African Americans about a time in our history where we were slaves. Taking that down, yes, that symbolism is important but it’s also important to improve our education system. It’s also important to make sure that people get jobs. It’s also important to revamp our criminal justice system. There’s a lot of things we can do if we feel the same grace those folks worshipping around that basement felt.
We get on the helicopter, Air Force One, and fly down to Charleston. On the plane, he says, “You know, there’s another stanza of Amazing Grace toward the back of the eulogy and if I'm feeling it, I might sing it.” And he did. And just on its own, that’s an extraordinary moment.
Going into the remarks, he wasn't sure if he could find the words to say what he wanted to say, and yet he did. And I think it will go down in history as one of his most important speeches, because he doesn't ever give in to the hate. It’s his job to move us beyond the hate and to not just feel better but to be better.
On July 7, 2016, a lone African American sniper shot and killed five police officers and injured nine others during a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas, of the recent white-on-black police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. Once again, the president was called on to speak at a memorial service.
I used my speech at Dallas, probably one of the most sorrowful and tragic episodes during my presidency…to again, try to bridge these divides. In some ways, it was a corollary to the speech I gave in Philadelphia.
He wanted to address a bunch of different things in the Dallas remarks. First and foremost was violence against police officers, not okay ever under any circumstances. But also, what leads to the kind of hatred to [cause] someone to do that. And what real fear and anger there is in communities that feel like they’ve been disrespected or treated unfairly. He’s one of the only people in our public life right now who can try to speak to all sides, to get them to see something in each other, as uncomfortable as it might be, and at least try to do something good.
What I said in the Dallas speech continues to be true—that in some ways, no matter how heartfelt or elegant the words, bridging these divides takes time and, more importantly, requires actions, actions at the local level. Actions involving police chiefs and community activists and clergy and mayors and people of goodwill coming together and really trying to do practical things.
Dallas is what gave him the capacity to do that because of what that city had done after those horrific assassinations, with the black police chief and the white mayor…how the city had come together, how there had been 500 new applications to be on the police force after that happened. That’s the America he knows and sees and believes in, a perfect backdrop to give a speech like that, where you’ve got your Republican predecessor next to you, and a black police chief and white mayor, and this is exactly the kind of thing that’s possible in a civilized democracy when it’s working properly.
Rather than simply react to these events with the proverbial conversation on race, what we’ve tried to do is really dig in and say, “All right, what builds trust? Are there ways in which investigations of these shootings can make communities feel as if they’re being treated fairly? Can we train police differently? Are we able to provide police with the tools so that they feel safer when they go in these communities, and are less likely to react too quickly in circumstances where they might be able to deescalate?” All those issues end up over time having more of a lasting effect than any conversation or speech I might engage in.
He knew he’d take some heat from parts of the sermon. We’re going in to eulogize police officers, [and] to actually talk openly and honestly about race and the problems that police officers face. And he sees no conflict in doing that. In fact, he sees it as an integral part of democracy, where if we’re unwilling to speak uncomfortable truths, nothing is going to get better. You know, race relations haven't suddenly gotten worse because we’re daring to talk about them. It’s what gives us the capacity and the space to do something about it.
The whole question of race is still something this nation is going to have to grapple with, that the next president is going to have to grapple with. How the next president deals with the question of race will be a defining moment for America in the 21st century, given the demographic changes this country is going through. The diversity can either be a very positive force or it can be made to be a divisive thing. And what the next president does…will really go a long way to decide what America is going to look like in the 21st century.
Despite the president’s occasional penchant for, some would say, minimizing the racial component of certain events, there were many moments, days, weeks, and months during Barack Obama’s eight-year administration when racial hatred reared its head.
No other president has had his very citizenship questioned. No other president has faced a member of the House of Representatives standing up in the House Chamber and shouting “You lie!” during a national address. These are acts of disrespect that reflected something that was, without question, rooted in race, as far as I was concerned. And some of the really vehement opposition out in the country was, as well. I don't think it’s a majority of people, but it certainly was there.
I’m surprised by the degree to which some of the animosity in the opposition comes from a place of racism and intolerance and a belief that someone like [Obama] shouldn’t be our president. That surprised me. In the campaigns, it really wasn’t front and center for us.
From the perspective [of] the media, it was the minority vote that elected him president. The black vote. Well, black people are like 11 percent of the population. Nobody is becoming president of this country if white people don’t vote for them, right?
The way they talk about him is almost like the other, he’s not American. I think there’s no question that’s been [an issue]. He won by seven points, a landslide in modern proportions, [with] support from all walks of life. He won the white vote in many states, particularly outside of the south. But I think that some people in America just weren’t ready for him. There’s a real sense that, this is not what our president is supposed to look like. And you see a lot of the comments on social media, they’re very hateful and they’re tinged with race. I think that is a loud minority. It’s not the majority, but it’s been part of the resistance, I believe that.
This is a man whose faith and patriotism and character has been attacked, and citizenship, in a way no other president’s has been attacked. His very legitimacy has been questioned for years.
There’s no doubt that among some circles, among some constituencies, the reaction to my policies or proposals might have been in some ways colored by my race. And that cuts both ways. I think African Americans were so proud that they probably were willing to be less critical of me, in some cases, than they might otherwise for a white president. What’s also true is that some of my critics were a little faster to jump on certain issues in certain ways than they might otherwise have been, and that is part of the process of the evolution of the country’s attitudes.
Is there backlash to him being the first African American president? Absolutely. Is race a part of this backlash? Absolutely. Is it the only reason for it? No.
The last eight years is a reaction of the status quo to hold on to the power that it has. It’s a reaction to the threat that they see Barack Obama embodying. He is a harbinger of what America is going to be. And I think it is America at its best: a more diverse America, a progressive America, a tolerant America. And there were a lot of people who were threatened by that vision. It meant displacing people who had held power, and institutions that had held power for long periods of time. People, institutions are wary of change. And if nothing else, this president was a significant change agent.
In Selma, Alabama, on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, where Martin Luther King Jr. and hundreds of unarmed marchers were attacked by state troopers, the president spoke of a brighter, more united future for the country, despite a year of race-related killings across the country.
Selma was [the president’s] most unabashedly patriotic love song to America. Anyone could go to Selma and just pay a nice tribute to what happened there, to the marchers crossing the bridge and retell the story. But he wants to do something bigger with every speech.
So he told the story of Selma and what could possibly be more American than what happened on that bridge? You know, plain and humble people, the downtrodden, people without high station changing the course of a super power at great, great risk to themselves, without help from others. And these were people whose patriotism had been questioned and faith and they were called mongrels and all sorts of terrible things and had no rights, and often, no hope. But they did something about it. They changed the world.
People look back and say, “In the 50's, in racial things, things were pretty quiet. Everything was okay.” Well, I guess we didn’t talk about it as much as we do now. It was before the Civil Rights Movement. If you talk to black folks in the south, black folks in the north, ask, “What’s your life like?” We’re in a far better place now…and unless we recognize that, we do a real disservice to people who sacrificed a great deal, who risked a great deal to make Barack Obama president, and Eric Holder attorney general. We still have a long way to go. I think this president…just by his presence…really engendered a necessary conversation about things racial.
It’s what he’s been talking about his entire career: People who love their country can change it against impossible odds. And we decided to say that is what America is. And he said, “You know what? At the end, let’s just let ‘er rip. Give me a whole list of what America is. You know, “We’re the slaves that built the White House and the economy of the south. The immigrants that came on ships and across the Rio Grande. The cowboys who settled the West, and the hucksters who followed 'em. Astronauts, soldiers, first responders, Jackie Robinson stealing home in the World Series, even though people were throwing pitches straight to his head.”
People have said I had to endure a lot as attorney general and I often thought a lot of it wasn’t pleasant, but when things got really bad, I’d think about my sister-in-law, Vivian Malone, who was one of the two black students who integrated the University of Alabama in 1963. And I thought [about] what she had to endure that day to get past [then Alabama Governor] George Wallace, what she had to endure during the two years she was on campus there with bomb threats and living with U.S. Marshalls. I thought about Dr. King, things he had to deal with, civil rights workers who were killed in Mississippi. If you keep that kind of perspective, it made all the things that I had to deal with quite endurable.
It was this big bold vision of America, America as it actually is today, not one where somebody says one part of America is more American than the other, but one where we all have a part to play here.
If you look at a country that was deeply mired in slavery fought an ugly, bloody war and came out of it to move forward to pass constitutional amendments, to pass civil rights legislation. We did those things. There was no magic fairy dust. The problems are still significant. The promise of the legislation and even those constitutional amendments still remains to be fulfilled, but at the same time, we do move forward.
[The president] has a belief and a faith in America and the American people…Forty years before [Obama] was elected president, Bobby Kennedy predicted, almost to the day, there would be an African American president of The United States. Change is constant and sometimes it’s slow and imperceptible but it’s happening. And I think we sometimes get caught up in the moment rather than have perspective over time. America is still changing. It’s still getting better. It takes time and you just got to grind it out. I think that’s how he views this moment in time in his presidency. It is part of a continuum of change that’s been coming a long time and will continue long after his presidency.
117 Interview Questions to Ask Your Family
As genealogists, we must always think about how to obtain the information we want in the most efficient way. When questioning family members, what are the best interview questions to ask to get a clearer picture of our relatives’ past, especially within a limited time frame?
It is often quite difficult to come up with great questions on the spot. So here we offer a collection of 117 questions to take with you when you’re interviewing relatives. These are sure to get your relatives talking!
- Do you share a name with someone else in the family?
- Did you have a nickname growing up? If so, what was it and why?
- Have you had a nickname as an adult?
- When and where were you born?
- What was your parents’ and grandparents’ religion?
- Do you follow a religion?
- Where was your first house?
- What other houses did you live in?
- What are your earliest memories of your home?
- Can you tell me a story or memory about your brothers and sisters?
- What are your brothers and sisters’ full names?
- What did your family do for leisure when you were a child?
- Were there tasks you hated doing when you were a child?
- What types of books do you like to read?
- Do you remember a favorite lullaby or song?
- When times were tough, do you remember having enough food?
- What were your favorite toys?
- What were your favorite games?
- Was there any fashion that you liked the most?
- What school did you go to and where was it?
- How did you feel about going to school?
- What was your favorite subject at school and why?
- Which subject was the most difficult?
- Who was your favorite teacher and why?
- What is your favorite school memory?
- What were your grades like?
- What did you wear to school?
- What sports did you participate in at school?
- Was there a meeting place where you liked to spend time?
- Did you receive any special awards for studies or activities at school?
- How many years of education have you completed?
- Describe what you were like as a young adult.
- Do you have a technical diploma or degree?
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- What was your first job?
- How old were you when you retired?
- How did you decide on your profession?
- What jobs have you done over the years?
- If you were in the military, what were your duties and when and where did you serve?
- How old were you when you started going out at night?
- Do you remember your first date?
- When and where did you meet your current partner?
- How long did you know each other before getting married?
- How did you propose?
- When and where did you get married?
- Describe the ceremony.
- Who was present? (witnesses, bridesmaids, etc.)
- Did you have a honeymoon? Where?
- Have you been married more than once?
- How would you describe your spouse?
- What do you most admire about him or her?
- How long have you been married?
- When and where did your spouse die?
- What advice would you give to a child or grandchild for their wedding day?
- How did you find out you were going to be a parent for the first time?
- How many children do you have?
- What are their names, dates of birth and where do they currently live?
- Why did you give them those names?
- Do you remember things that your children did when they were little that really surprised you?
- What is one of the funniest things your children did when they were little?
- What was the most fun you had while raising your kids?
- If you had to do it again, what would you change about the way you raised your family?
- What was the most challenging part of raising children?
- Did you consider yourself as a strict parent?
- What was the most rewarding thing about parenting?
- Did any of your children break anything of yours?
- Did you have to treat any of your children differently? Why?
- How did you feel when your oldest child began school?
- What advice would you give your children and grandchildren about being a parent?
- Where did your in-laws live?
- When and where did your parents die? What do you remember about them?
- How did they die? Where were they hospitalized?
- Which cemetery are they buried in?
- What do you remember about the death of your in-laws?
- Do you remember listening to your grandparents talking about their lives? What did they say?
- Did you ever meet any of your great-grandparents?
- Who was the oldest person you remember from when you were a child?
- Did you suffer from any childhood illnesses?
- Do you have any genetic health problems?
- Do you exercise regularly?
- Have you ever had any bad habits?
- Have you ever been a victim of a crime?
- Have you had any major accidents?
- Has anyone ever saved your life?
- Have you ever been hospitalized? For what?
- Have you ever had surgery?
- What do you consider the most important inventions in your lifetime?
- Do you remember the first time you saw a car, a TV or a refrigerator?
- How different was the world when you were a child?
- Do you remember your family talking about politics?
- How would you define yourself politically?
- Did you live through any war?
- Have you admired any president or world leader that you’ve seen in power?
- How did you live the days of food shortages?
- Tell me the name of a good friend who has been your friend for many years.
- Has there been anyone in your life that you would consider a soul mate? Who was it and why do you feel that special bond?
- What are the hardest decisions you’ve had to make?
- Who has changed your life?
- If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
- What is the most difficult thing you have ever experienced?
- Have you ever played a musical instrument?
- Do you consider yourself creative?
- What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever known?
- What activities have you enjoyed as an adult?
- What are your hobbies?
- What do you like to do when you are not working?
- What is the most incredible thing that has happened to you?
- Have you ever met someone famous?
- Who were your grandparents?
- Where were they from?
- How do you feel about your major decisions in life, such as profession, studies, and spouse?
- What organizations or groups did you belong to?
- Have you ever won an award as an adult?
- What is the longest trip you’ve ever made?
- What has been your favorite vacation spot?
- What pets have you had?
- Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but have not done yet?
How to fix problems switching to Canary version of Microsoft Edge
Alongside the stable version of the browser, Microsoft also offers previews to test upcoming features and changes using different channels, including Canary, Dev, and Beta, which sometimes can also include upcoming fixes and improvements.
If nothing seems to resolve the problem, or there's a known bug with the browser, and a fix is coming on a future release, you can temporarily switch to the Canary build to mitigate the issue.
To install the canary version of Microsoft Edge, use these steps:
Click the More platforms and changes link.
Source: Windows Central
Under the "Canary Channel" section, click the Download button.
Source: Windows Central
Click the Get started button.
Source: Windows Central
Select the new tab page layout.
Source: Windows Central
(Optional) Click the Customize sync settings option to decide the settings that you want to sync.
Source: Windows Central
Once you complete the steps, you can start using the browser without issues. After the new update releases, you can switch back to the stable version of Microsoft Edge.
We're focusing this guide to resolve common issues with the Microsoft Edge application only. However, because the browser requires access to the internet, you may also come across page loading, sync, and other issues as a result of networking and other problems because of your device or network configuration, which may require different instructions.
More Windows 10 resources
For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:
Wake on Touch could be a new hardware feature for Windows 11 PCs
A new hidden feature has been found in a leaked build of Windows 11. Wake on Touch suggests Microsoft has plans for new hardware that will let you wake your PC simply by touching the display. Maybe we’ll see it in a Surface Pro 8 later this year?
Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft's biggest opportunity since Windows itself
At E3 2021, Microsoft outlined its vision for moving beyond its console install base, capturing audiences who can't buy, or simply don't want to buy, a video game console. The opportunity Microsoft has here is potentially huge, on a scale unlike anything the company has seen since Windows itself.
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