Barack Obama ’08

It has been a little over a week since Barack Obama’s speech on race in America. I watched the speech while I was at an Academic Advising conference in Vancouver, BC. It feels like a moment that I will remember for a very long time. It’s similar to the Challenger accident or the events that transpired on September 11, 2001. This was a monumental day in American history.

  • I was in Cotter, Iowa at Cotter Elementary when the Challenger exploded.
  • I sat in front of a tv at my apartment in Oak Park, Illinois on 9/11.
  • I watched Barack Obama’s historic and moving speech in a hotel in downtown Vancouver.

These are three events that will always remain in my memory. I’ve watched this speech several times and it’s not perfect, but it’s the most honest speech on race in the United States that I have ever watched.

This is the first time that I can recall a politician talking about race, racism, and white privilege in such a real and direct way… Here are a couple of my favorite parts of this speech.

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.

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.

Complete text of “A More Perfect Union

PS: Barack Obama was in Corvallis, Oregon last week. I was only a few blocks away…bummer!
Barack Obama was also in Medford, Oregon last week. If only I had taken the Medford exit on our way to Ashland!

PPS: Consider this the official endorsement for Barack Obama. I voted for Barack Obama when he was running for senator in Illinois and I am ready to vote for him again.

PPPS: This is definitely my favorite item on the web store on Obama’s web site: “Republicans for Obama
Republicans are voting for Barack Obama and you should too