11/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Mr. Almost President

While most of the polls and pundits have all but declared you, Sen. Obama, the winner of the November 4th election, you have wisely cautioned your workers and supporters to refrain from celebrating and assuming that the election is in the bag. You are correct to keep all of them on the job up to and including Election Day.

To become cocky and take things for granted is to flirt with danger and invite defeat due to laxity.

However, barring a McCain miracle, a major gaffe by you or some serious breach of national security (i.e. terrorism), you will win this election! Given this reality, if you have not already, it is now time for you and your advisers to begin giving serious consideration to some of the concerns that have been expressed by the leadership of the African-American community.


While I am sure that you and your advisers have already given a great deal of serious thought to the kind of persons you will include in your administration, I would like to offer a few suggestions:

Since you have declared that you will have an administration that will reach across the aisle and include Republicans and Independents, the first Republican that should be on your list for appointment is former Secretary of State Colin Powell. If you intend to regain American respect amongst the nations of the world, Secretary Powell should be your first appointment as your personal representative and ambassador at-large to open a dialogue with Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea. This, I hope, will lead to face-to-face talks, the normalization of relations with these nations, a speedy withdrawal from Iraq and a solution to the question of nuclear arms by Iran and North Korea. Secretary Powell is the only person in this country who has the prestige, international respect, and the diplomatic skills to address these thorny problems that will be one of your immediate concerns on January 21.

In this period of economic meltdown and the fact that you will likely be saddled with a worldwide economic mess, you will need a team around you comprised of the best and brightest economic and financial minds in the country. Thus, John Rogers of Ariel Capital Management should be appointed Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers or to the Federal Reserve Board.

Your Africa policy team must be not only knowledgeable about the problems of Africa and its people, but they must have the matching dedication and vision that will allow you to make serious and measurable changes in the conditions of the African people. The problems of Darfur, Chad, Somalia and the Congo are of immediate concern. If you are to be taken seriously as a foreign policy leader, you must dedicate major resources to the solution of AIDS and hunger in Africa. Perhaps the appointment of a person like Samantha Power as the lead person on the Africa team, supported by strong African-American scholars like John Higginson of the University of Massachusetts and Pearl T. Robinson of Tufts University would be ideal.

Because you will need a strong domestic adviser and policy team who understand the need to assist in the transition to the society of change you have outlined, perhaps you will want to look at Melissa Lacewell-Harris of Princeton University and Dianne Pinderhughes of Notre Dame University.

To assure the needed cleanup of the election process in this nation, please consider Lance Gough of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners for Chair of the Federal Elections Commission and Alex Willingham of Williams College as a member.

Dr. Eric Whitaker is your best bet for Surgeon General or Director of the Center for Disease Control and Congressman Danny K. Davis for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

These are just some of the initial thoughts that I have for appointments. Please understand that the African-American community has invested a great deal of trust and faith in you and your administration. I am sure it will be impossible for you to live up to all of the expectations coming from black Americans (and from any other group of your supporters). However, please keep in mind that an honest attempt to satisfy these expectations is absolutely necessary.

Mr. Almost President, with the mandate that has been given to you by the American people of all races, creeds and colors it is time that you move onto the world stage on January 21 in the boldest manner of any president in history. You must set the pace for the 21st Century and be that real agent of change. Remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963, "Are we to be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? ... Perhaps the South, the nation, and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." We are counting on you to be a creative extremist for justice and change!