In early 2009, as Barack Obama prepared to move into the White House, a particular historical anecdote rapidly gained in popularity, repeated in dozens of talks and articles as a parable for how supporters should respond to the new president taking office. The story related a New Deal-era encounter between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a group of activists, usually said to have been led by A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. In the meeting, the advocates laid out a vision of bold action for change that the president could advance with his bully pulpit and his executive power.
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