Obama’s speech historic
(Aired March 19, 2008)
I listened to Barack Obama’s speech on race yesterday and I thought it was one for the ages. I think it was a speech that will echo throughout the years and rank up there with remarks made by Dr. Martin Luther King.
He talked about racism, a subject that, as he said, we all talk about in private with our friends but avoid when in mixed company. He talked about the concerns of the black community and he talked about the concerns of the white community. But more importantly he made it OK to talk about race in America.
Only someone like Obama, whose father was from Kenya and whose mother was from Kansas; who was raised by a white grandmother and grandfather, who lived for many years in the largest Muslim country in the world and who has, as he said, cousins of every color on several continents of the world; only someone like Obama could address the subject of race in America.
We all know racism exists. We talk about it when we’re among friends. We talk about it in the barber shops and beauty shops, but we never talk about it in public. But now we can.
Barack Obama has not only made it OK to talk about race but has made it almost mandatory that we address the subject. As he said, it’s a teachable moment.
He said that he wasn’t naive and that he knew racism would continue to exist in the United States but that it was time to move on and address the real problems which face this country and stop using race as an excuse.
There are those who say that Obama made the speech to address the controversy caused by his minister Reverend Jeremiah Wright. They say that his speech was nothing more than damage control and that he needed to make it to move on with his campaign.
That was probably his intent. But it was more than that.
A half white, half black man talked about race in a public forum and made it OK for the rest of us to talk about race without being called a racist.
Just like John Kennedy’s speech on religion in West Virginia in 1960 made it OK to talk about religion, Obama’s speech made it OK to talk about race.
Will Obama’s speech put the subject of race behind him and make his campaign about the issues? I don’t know. Only those who cast votes will make that decision.
But was his speech yesterday – - historic.