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Sweet: Obama Philadelpia speech on race and Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Transcript.


PHILADELPHIA, PA.--The following is a transcript of March 18, 2008 remarks, as delivered, of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)where he speaks about his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
“A More Perfect Union”
Constitution Center
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.

Let me begin by thanking Harris Wofford for his contributions to this country in so many different ways. He exemplifies what we mean by the word "citizen." And so we are very grateful to him for all the work he has done, and I'm thankful for the gracious and thoughtful introduction.

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy and in some cases pain For some, nagging questions remain.
Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in the church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her by on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Now some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing to do would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years.
That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning.
That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.


That could not have been said any better! No one could possibly have read that and not realized how brilliant this man is! He has a firm grasp of exactly what is going on in America and could not have explained more eloquently, sensitively, and accurately from all sides. I am a white woman with a daughter whose father is black, so I can relate on a lot of levels with him. His unique perspective is actually not that unique! My family is like the rainbow ; not just black and white, but Latino and Asian as well as people from across the globe and I'm not the only one! He represents in one handsome, reflective, intelligent package exactly what America is and should be about! If he is not elected as the President of the United States of America, we will missing out on one of the greatest and rarest opportunities to truly make this a better place!

This was the typical Obama speech that puts all the responsibility for bringing this country together on white people. The main revelation of this diatribe is that Obama admitted to another lie. He admitted to be in attendance at the church when Wright said racist things. Last week he lied when he said he was not aware of his saying racist things. One more thing, don't be fooled that the members of Obama's church want to bring this country together. The members' support of Wright's sermons make it clear that they want nothing to do with bridging the racial divide.

Rev. Wright could've done so much for African Americans with his great skills from the pulpit to fix problems in our communities. Yet, he chose to pick the scab of injustice every Sunday and add hate and racism to it and perpetuate the very things wrong in society.

To not have spoken of proper solutions and organizing for the good of everyone is a great sin.

This speech perhaps would have had more of an impact if it wasn't done as damage control because some of Wright's sermons (which Obama knew about over a year ago) started getting attention in the past week.

Obama is a politician, just like any other politician. The fact is, though, that behind the words, many politicians actually try to accomplish goals that support their words. I would like to see more action from Obama to back up his words. What has he actually done to help race relations and to help the working class of all backgrounds besides run for president and make this speech?

Obama claims that he entered the presidential race for lofty reasons, but his short trip to this presidential run shows that he is more about ambition and less about lofty ideals than Obamaniacs like to think.

I note that he continues to refer to Wright as his "former" pastor, but Wright is still listed on the Trinity church's website as the pastor there.

All you folks will brag about Obama's speech. I say "what a phony". I was always taught 'two wrongs don't make a right'. So what did Obama do: He made excuses for Wright being what he is by mentioning that his white grandmother had some stereotype tendencies. Sorry, not good enough. And all of Wright's pals are a bunch of hypocrite phonies as well. It's like Rev. Sharpton defending Wright by saying, "lets look at his (Wright)contribution and not just at several devisive speeches, such as his helping HIV/AIDS patients". So I ask this, "why didn't Sharpton have that same rules of standards when he went after Don Imus?" Didn't Imus's relentless charity work and donations and bringing sick children to his New Mexico ranch at HIS EXPENSE count for anything, Rev. Al? Or are the rules different? Back to Obama: He was a member of this church for TWENTY years. And witnesses have confirmed Obama was there when Wright made many of his hateful racist speeches. So if his judgement is this bad, then he shouldn't be President of the United States. We need a uniter and not somebody whose pals with a divider.

It was classic Obama but maybe a bit subdued in presentation. All the honey, all the platitudes, and the knife, finishing with a pointless but guaranteed tear jerker story (I have heard the Ms Baia story often before but it still brings a lump to the throat). Nice of the Senator to rewrite Civil Rights legislation and credit John F. Kennedy instead of Lyndon Baines Johnson! I guess like Bible study (for some odd reason Senator Obama believes homosexuality is condoned in the Sermon on the Mount and dismisses St. Paul’s letters as ‘obscure’), history is not Senator Obama’s forte and he has lousy fact checkers.

Senator Obama gives the sincere impression of being open, honest and transparent but this is belied if you contrast what he says with what the facts of the matter are. All over TUCC literature, the Black Liberation philosphy of James Cone holds sway. Senator Obama must have discussed and explored the philosphy of his Church with his pastor/mentor/friend Jeremiah Wright Jr. when they met to pray and talk together in the past 20 years. Did he just tune out all of Reverend Wright’s sermons? Goodness sakes he must have at some time or other read the Church’s own literature?

Senator Obama’s vision of the truly unified United States is a powerful and glorious vision but needs a person with true strength of character and a strong moral core to inspire all Americans to bring it to fruition. Sadly Senator Obama is not the man to make his own dream or ours come true.



We've heard it all before, even if not as eloquently or slick. something for everyone with a teflon coating. Methinks Obama is a "dangerous" man in many areas. We still have no idea what he really thinks, or what his real "plans for America are." Too slick by a wide margin for my tastes.

Might I add that it is a sad day for this country when Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain are the three "best"(???) candidates for the office of presidency. All three are seriously flawed in many ways. But, I suppose I would prefer McCains's "soft" bi-partican conservatism to Obama's barely disguised socialism, and Hillary's "lust for power and control" (with Bill lurking behind the curtain pulling the strings at every turn...what a nightmare).

Obama is full of "it." And so are the other two. This is a three clown race toward bankruptcy of the entire nation socially, financially, and spiritually.

W. Wong

This is sickening. Obama has consistently lied and now tries to backstep. He is insulting the american people. Obama still defends the church and his pastor period. Don't forget, he lied about talking to the Canadians about Nafta.

What Rev. said was RIGHT and EXACT AMERICA was built by OUR ANCESTORS SWEAT AND TEARS. What goes around still comes back around. SLAVERY WAS THE MOST HORRIFIC CRIME EVER CREATED ON THE PLANET EARTH. DONE BY GOD FEARING AMERICANS. YOU STEAL millions PEOPLE, ROB THEM OF THEIR NATIVE TONGUE,THEIR HISTORY,THEIR HERITAGE, MAKE THEM BUILD THIS PLACE WE CALL AMERICA AND NAME THESE PEOPLE AS YOU WOULD YOUR PETS. And we STILL PERSERVER admist all the atrocity. SO yes what's so bad about the statement??? Unfortunately we as Africans will have to suffer yet again due to the laws,rules that AMERICANS have in place. America's military is and has always been a war-monger. Starting with killing the Native americans to slavery etc.....

There are too many cynical comments on here. If you didn't like his speech that's fine. Just think about what he said not about him. No president is going to change much of anything, but I think Barack Obama of all the candidates can bring about real change in how people respond to politicians and how we can act in our collective interests. I really don't care if an adviser of his talked to the Canadians about NAFTA. It is how we work with Mexico that worries me much more. To simply denounce and ignore people does not solve anything. We have to talk with each other regardless of differences. No person should be swayed by another persons speech without first understanding the context of the thing that is being talked about. If you do disagree then state your differences and try to gain common ground, but to simply denounce is a failed strategy. Things will not always work out but you have to try to bridge gaps.

WOW! I believe this country is heading towards the most ugliest and sorrowful times in it's young history. Reading the hatred and tone on this page actually confirms what Mr. Obama brought to light. I guarantee you that we will not see a Democrat as our next president. Foolish of us to believe that this country was ready to move forward. Let's hold onto our anger and our history of ignoring our faults. Let's agree to continue to cross the street when we pass a person of a different race. I assure you the days ahead will make us lone for the days that are. Hold on tight this ride is about to get rocky.
Pray For Us All.

Ms. Sweet:
I don't think that there is a contradiction between what Senator Obama said in the meeting with the Editorial Board and what he said in his speech, which I found overwhelmingly moving and authentic. I was in my church TUCC when the sermon that many have heard was delivered and I must tell you--the part of the sermon that has caused such controversy was of little relevance to me. By only seeing this little snippet of data, people have missed Reverend Wright's heartfelt and loving words about all of the victims of the attacks. Ironically, I left that sermon soothed. I felt that there is indeed a balm in Gilead. Senator Obama was not at my service--in fact, I've been at Trinity almost as long as Senator Obama and have never seen him in one of the services that I've attended. . I've seen many politicians from Chicagoland on a regular basis, but not Barak. I have no trouble believing that Senator Obama was not in a service where Reverend Wright was especially vehement about policy matters. Reverend Wright is a passionate man who has what I've always considered the wonderful ability to be un-censored. Clearly, this has become a vulnerability, perhaps for him but I will let God assess that. Surely he has said many things that could have been said more diplomatically-many about members of our congregation. I don't always agree with some of the words he uses but overall, I have found the sum of what he offered during his tenure at Trinity overwhelmingly valuable. I am a better woman (and I am a woman with friends of every hue and I truly love them) because of my associations with Trinity. My children (with friends of every hue) and husband (with diverse and loved friends) take from Trinity the directive to love all of God's children in spite of their behaviors--historic and present. I have never walked away from a Trinity sermon not feeling inspired and sincerely, loving towards mankind. I hope that you won't assume that Senator Obama was lying to the board or the public in his remarks about being in church and what he heard. Reverend Wright preached 3 services every Sunday-7:30 in the morning, 11:00 in the morning and 6:00 in the evening. It is highly possible that he said one thing at one sermon and another at a different one for he worked hard to offer something motivational in each service as many attended all three in one day. That's all. thanks.


What Rev. said was RIGHT and EXACT AMERICA was built by OUR ANCESTORS SWEAT AND TEARS. What goes around still comes back around. SLAVERY WAS THE MOST HORRIFIC CRIME EVER CREATED ON THE PLANET EARTH. DONE BY GOD FEARING AMERICANS. YOU STEAL millions PEOPLE, ROB THEM OF THEIR NATIVE TONGUE,THEIR HISTORY,THEIR HERITAGE, MAKE THEM BUILD THIS PLACE WE CALL AMERICA AND NAME THESE PEOPLE AS YOU WOULD YOUR PETS. And we STILL PERSERVER admist all the atrocity. SO yes what's so bad about the statement??? Unfortunately we as Africans will have to suffer yet again due to the laws,rules that AMERICANS have in place. America's military is and has always been a war-monger. Starting with killing the Native americans to slavery etc.....

I am sensing that many of the negative comments are emanating from our white brothers and sisters. I am an educated successful African American that has benefitted from the positive influence of both black and white Americans that have tried to forge equality and justice for all citizens. The truth is that slavery and Jim Crow has dominated the existence of blacks in America for hundreds of years. The tide has only started to turn in the last 30. Let's be honest, America still has a racial crisis. It may not be as pronounced as it was in the 60's, but it still exists. We can't “wish” the racial divide in America away. We have to willingly work on it. Obama is himself a symbol of the racial divide in America. Although his mother is white, because his father is black, he will never be embraced by the White community as a "white" man because he doesn't look white. But the Black community welcomes and embraces him as a "black" man, with whom he has found identification. The truth is that he is both. Unfortunately many in the White community seem to only learn of blacks through television and movies that often establish and strengthen negative stereotypes of blacks. The only voices that seem to speak are the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons, Louis Farrakhans and now Jeremiah Wrights that do not often carry the majority sentiment of the community. Blacks and whites have little experience or relationship with each other. In college, my experience with several of my white college dorm mates was the first honest conversation and friendship that I had with a white person and they had with a black person. We found that our desires, hopes and dreams were really no different. The problem with America is that we fail to have that conversation with one another. Instead, both communities find it easier to spew hate, stereotypes and blame. Barak Obama isn't like the other candidates. His experiences are different; his orientation to the world is different. Obama is a politician, but He isn't just "another politician". Many in the Black community know better. We've always had "politicians" leading the country. Many of us revel in the idea of Obama being president, not simply because he is black, but because he embodies what the founding fathers asked each generation to hope America for the people by the people, not just the privileged few. I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton or John McCain are capable of running the country. But I believe Obama will be a great President that will leave a powerful legacy. It truly is time for a paradigm shift in American politics. If America is to survive and regain global prominence, it must first come together. I believe Obama is the only candidate of the three that is capable of doing so.

Okay. So we all want to get along? Should all white people apologize for what black people consider to be what holds them back? Do we not all blame something for holding us back when it is evident that we are not being given a chance to do something we want? Do we welcome the competition in such a tough world?

Do black people and white people want the same things? Do we all judge each others race by what the bad people of each other's culture does and says? Do we lump each other into the same boxes and not look at each other individually? When we do look at each other individually do we judge each other by our own standards or theirs? How are we supposed to look at one another? Are we supposed to listen to words or pay attention to actions?

We want to heal our racial divides and move forward together. When white people think that they are seeing a black man who wants us all to get along and work together they love it. White people who do care have spent years at the guilt whipping post. Now, do they wonder is it all a front just so in the end one race will gain favor over another or does Obama want us all to be equal and have the same advantages?

It all boils down to social and economic classes and the fight to make it in this world and keep what we have for us and our children. The fears that Jeremiah Wright instilled in white people with his vitrolic comments are justified. If he truly believes that a white controlled government actually stewed up the AIDS virus to kill black people what does that say about what he believes of his own people's decision making capability?

We have seen Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan try to divide us for so long that now we have hope that Obama is different. And we want him to be for all of our sakes. But these doubts that Jeremiah Wright's venom has stung us all with may not ever go away.

Where is Jeremiah Wright now? Is he being quiet because he doesn't want to cause any more trouble for Obama? If he truly believes all of rantings that he has spewed why isn't he speaking out and proving his accusations and telling us how proud and sure he is of all that he has said in the past. If he isn't proud of it and knows it was a mistake to bait people with such volatile and contemptible accusations, why doesn't he come out and apologize? If you cringe when you hear someone say something inappropriate about another race, is it okay to ignore it? Isn't that what the white people of America have been accused of for years? Maybe there is some common ground here after all.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 18, 2008 10:45 AM.

Sweet: Obama speaking now about "racial stalemate." Cannot "disown" Wright any more than he could "disown my white grandmother." was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet: At Clinton press conference with Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. UPDATE-11,000 pages of first lady skeds to be released. is the next entry in this blog.

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