President Barack Obama paid passionate tribute to Black civil rights trailblazers on the centennial of the NAACP, but said a “new mindset” was necessary to achieve a post-racial America.
President Obama Hits on All Cylinders
In Passionate NAACP Anniversary Speech
President will not be in attendance at
National Urban League Conference July. 25 in Chicago
By Kenneth Miller
Sentinel Managing Editor
Fresh on the heels of his historical and emotional visit to African homeland Ghana, President Barack Obama return to American soil to address the NAACP during the civil rights organization 100 year anniversary, recently.
Returning to his passionate oratory gifts that lift a nation and inspire America to elect him as the first Black President, Obama told the gathering, that it was because past civil rights leaders that he stood that evening on the shoulders of giants.
“even as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past 100 years; even as we inherit extraordinary progress that cannot be denied; even as we marvel at the courage and determination of so many plain folk-we know that too many barriers still remain,” President Obama stated.
While reflecting the protesting of lynching, and the ugly Jim Crow era and highlighting the monumental achievements of post slavery that inspired marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and bus boycotts by Rosa Parks, the president also recognized our current economic crisis and his challenge to authorize a national health plan.
Although he was addressing a predominant African American audience, he broaden his scope of Blacks suffering to include other ethnic groups citing, “We know that even as we imprison more people of all races than any nation in the world, an African American child is roughly five times as likely as a White child to see the inside of a prison.”
Pinpointing the ongoing plight of discrimination of women of color, the scourge of the HIV/AIDS endemic and the fight for equality of gay brothers and sisters, his nearly 5,000-word delivery drew standing ovation and consistent applause.
Obama then took up his plight for education that even here in California has been hit with massive budget cuts and escalating cost for tuition.
“There’s a reason Thurgood Marshall took up the cause of Linda Brown. There is a reason why the Little Rock Nine defied a governor and a mob. It’s because there is no stronger weapon against equality and no better path to opportunity than an education that can unlock a child’s God-given potential,” he said to a roaring ovation.
While his speech was well received within the Black community, the President also issued some rather direct instruction to Black parents that although some may not agree with it, it is hard for them to deny it.
“We’ve got to say to our children, yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades–that’s not a reason to cut class–that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school.”
To the parents he said, “We can’t tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them at home. You can’t just contract out parenting. For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn. That means putting away the Xbox–putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour.”
Obama says, ” It means pushing our children to set their sights a little bit higher. They might think they’ve got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty go flow, but out kids can’t all aspire to be LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientist and engineers-doctors and teachers-not just ballers and rappers.”
The President and First Lady Michelle Obama have both been invited to speak at the 2009 National Urban League Convention in their home town of Chicago, but officials from the organization said they will not be attending.