Obama's mentor at Occidental College speaks
Lawrence Goldyn, Barack Obama's mentor during his freshman and sophomore years at Occidental College, speaks out about the young Obama in an interview with The Southern Voice, a gay newspaper in Atlanta. He provides some helpful context in understanding the political and academic development of Barack Obama.
His reputation for holding out-of-class discussions with students attracted a number of straight students, Goldyn said. He noted that many of those students who gravitated toward him were older black and Latino students who were interested in his strong views on social issues and racial politics.
Goldyn said Obama stood out, though, by participating in the discussions as a freshman or sophomore.
"He was younger, and coming to a somewhat elite, private college ... I am sure he felt like a fish out of water, and he had every reason to feel insecure about himself in a place like that," Goldyn said.
[As] the New York Times reported in February 2008 that several of Obama's fellow Occidental students saw the young Obama grow increasingly interested in politics, particularly in his sophomore year. [....]"He wasn't a very serious student yet," Goldyn said about Obama when the student arrived at Occidental. "So I felt good that I contributed to him sort of getting it together and focusing on what he wanted to do.
"It's very hard to put a whole coalition together, and you have to figure out a way to negotiate and navigate where he is clearly supportive of gay rights, but he cannot come out up front and say that he's in favor of marriage, because the country, I don't think, may be ready for that in an election," he said. "And I don't have a problem with that."