“A Promised Land,” Where Democracy Works for Everybody: Reflections of a president


Hannah Michelle Bussa

Former President Barack Obama’s memoir is set to be released on Nov. 17, just weeks after Election Day on Nov. 3. While President Obama’s terms in the highest office are in the past, local grassroots organizer Brad Christian-Sallis discusses the importance of learning lessons from the past to prepare for the future. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States, will release the first volume of his memoir this fall on Nov. 17, covering his first term in office.

While focused on creating a better future, local grassroots organizer Brad Christian-Sallis stresses the importance of learning from the past.

“The past is filled with knowledge, and we do a disservice to ourselves and those we advocate for if we don’t take the time to learn every lesson we can as we prepare for the battles of the future,” Christian-Sallis said.

Christian-Sallis is the Voting Rights Field Director with Civic Nebraska and a community organizer in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I create strategies for direct action and train others how to do the same in order for us to create the world we want to see,” he said.

President Obama’s upcoming memoir is entitled “A Promised Land.”

“When I hear the words ‘Promised Land,’ I think of goals achieved,” said Christian-Sallis. “I think of the final destination and how it will be when I no longer need to organize. The promised land means we have reached a place where all people can be at peace. The Constitution was written to protect and emphasize the voices of property-owning white men, but as a Black man, the promised land is a government that protects and uplifts us all.”

The first volume of President Obama’s memoir releases within the following weeks of election day. However, the election may not be decided at this point, according to the Associated Press.

Christian-Sallis noted: “People need to be prepared to be patient, we likely won’t know the result of the election right away, but that’s okay. Throughout the history of our nation, we haven’t always known election results at the end of the night, but what is important is accuracy, not speed. I would much rather wait a week or two and have every vote counted than to rush the process.”

President Obama said in a statement: “I’ve spent the last few years reflecting on my presidency, and in ‘A Promised Land’ I’ve tried to provide an honest accounting of my presidential campaign and my time in office: the key events and people who shaped it; my take on what I got right and the mistakes I made; and the political, economic, and cultural forces that my team and I had to confront then – and as a nation we are grappling with still.”

Christian-Sallis is looking forward to the release of the memoir.

“I hope he will mention voting rights and the consequences of Shelby v. Holder. To me, voting rights are the basis of all our other rights, so I’d love to hear his thoughts on how we make sure every U.S. citizen is guaranteed the right to vote without obstacles,” he said. “Additionally, I hope he talks about how he could have done more to make sure everyone who became involved in our political system because of him stayed involved.”

President Obama continued: “In the book, I’ve also tried to give readers a sense of the personal journey that Michelle and I went through during those years, with all the incredible highs and lows. And finally, at a time when America is going through such enormous upheaval, the book offers some of my broader thoughts on how we can heal the divisions in our country going forward and make our democracy work for everybody – a task that won’t depend on any single president, but on all of us as engaged citizens.”

Christian-Sallis added his beliefs on the success of a democracy.

“I think voting, protesting, and other forms of direct action are the keys to making democracy work for individuals,” Christian-Sallis said. “Each of us has a voice and it deserves to be heard. Democracy doesn’t mean getting your way, but it does mean each of us being heard. We have to work to make sure our democracy is valuing each of us equitable and is systemically set up to include us all, particularly black and brown communities, who have been historically excluded.”

For those looking to become more engaged in democracy, Christian-Sallis has some advice:

“First, you can vote! Next, you can sign up to help protect the rights of other voters by joining other Nebraskans serving as poll observers in Civic Nebraska’s Election Protection program or help to get out the vote by joining our team of volunteers.”

President Obama has been called the “most literary president since Abraham Lincoln,” which has made this memoir “the most anticipated presidential memoir in memory,” according to the Associated Press. The book contains 768 pages and is listed at $45.

“Obama’s ambition [is] to write a book that captures the experiences of being president and offers an inspiring story for young people,” said Crown Publisher David Drake.

“Our democracy depends on participation all the time, not just presidential election years,” Brad Christian-Sallis emphasized. “Each of us has an incredible amount of power to create the world we want to see.”

You can get involved with Civic Nebraska here:

Poll Observers: https://bit.ly/eppvolne

Join Volunteer Team: https://bit.ly/civicnevol