By Kevin C. Peterson

As a black American who witnessed one of my proudest political moments when President Obama was elected seven years ago, I feel the reality that he will soon be leaving the Oval Office beginning to sink in. It's not a good feeling.

From the Republicans' scrabble in Iowa and New Hampshire to wondering whether Hillary Clinton will survive her e-mail scandal and how long Sen. Bernie Sanders' political flame will burn before it flickers out, it all represents a sobering adumbration: Obama's exit from the White House nears.

Many African Americans are experiencing presidential pre-separation anxiety - acute symptoms of political uneasiness about the shape of post-Obama America. We ask poignant questions: Will an American president use Twitter again? Will the next commander in chief possess the political imagination to open relations with countries like Cuba? Will the next president imitate Marvin Gaye at a press conference or do the Lipala at a party in Kenya?

One thing is sure despite all the challenges from a gridlocked, partisan, and quasi-racist Congress: Obama got things done.

Refloating a tanking banking industry was his first solid move. Obamacare came next. As reported in Forbes magazine late last year, the Obama administration can boast that the health plan has saved nearly 50,000 lives and $12 billion since its enactment.

But black and progressive Americans also say that more can be done before Obama leaves office in January 2017.

They argue that the president should have been more forceful about advancing a black agenda, especially because African Americans were the most loyal voting bloc for him in 2008 and 2012, at 95 percent and 93 percent, respectively. They wonder if there is time for addressing the big problems still plaguing blacks.

Indeed, there is time, and Obama should pursue three major policy initiatives that can affect the plight of blacks for decades beyond his presidency.

First, Obama should use federal funds to endow historically black colleges and universities. Two generations after the successes of the civil rights movement, black colleges now suffer from a lack of enrollment and support from the black middle class, whose children have been lured away by the Ivy Leagues and mainstream white colleges.

Since slavery, historically black schools had been the choice of the black middle class and elite African American families. Howard, Lincoln, and Tuskegee Universities were supported predominantly by black families - a legacy that has abated dramatically since the 1960s.

By endowing the nation's top 50 historically black colleges at $1 billion each, we can enable a new generation of black students - especially poor students from inner cities - to matriculate at underused black colleges with full scholarships. There is precedent for this. As part of Obama's 2009 economic stimulus legislation, nearly $2 billion was set aside for historically black schools.

Nothing will move millions of black Americans from poverty to the middle class faster than a college education.

Second, Obama should move more aggressively toward saving black men. The president's My Brother's Keeper project is a good start. Rightly, the president has acknowledged that boys of color are in trouble and is steering $50 million in public- and private-sector funds to help black and Latino boys.

But a problem remains. The current generation of black men lives in crisis. They suffer in the civic shadows of the nation. They live in what Harvard sociologist Orlando Wilson has called "social death." Poignantly, the New York Times noted earlier this year that more than one million black men are absent from American society due to incarceration, disease, or early death by violence.

An emergency plan - consisting of jobs programs and social inclusion policies - must address the plight of alienated black men.

Third, Obama must make it a priority to pursue a renewed Voting Rights Act. Voter-identification laws, redistricting, disenfranchisement of former prisoners, and elimination of early voting in some states will affect the black electorate for generations, according to a report by the public policy organization Demos. A restored Voting Rights Act is needed for future black involvement in the nation's electoral process.

Obama will be remembered for great feats in office. He should also ensure that a strengthened black community is part of his lasting legacy.