The next Barack Obama is ... no one

But that is something close to a complete list of prominent black politicians of Obama’s generation (or younger) currently in high-ranking office. And, those few successes don’t overshadow the starker reality of the many political flame-outs of the Obama generation.

Take Artur Davis. He bet that Alabama, a state known for some of the most violent civil rights era crime was ready for a black nominee for the governor’s race in 2010. But Davis never even made it out of the Democratic primary, misreading the black electorate most of all. (He actually lost black voters to Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who was white.) While Davis introduced Obama at the Democratic National Committee in 2008, by 2012 his journey to nowhere in particular had changed so abruptly that he was a featured speaker at the Republican National Committee’s convention.

Davis, a former member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was chronicled along with a number of other would-be stars in Gwen Ifill’s excellent book: “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” His promise and then squandered potential is perhaps most glaring example of the stunted growth and imposed glass ceilings of Obama’s contemporaries and those thought to be coming in his wake. But, he’s hardly the only one.