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President Obama Finds His Voice With Race Issue

July 20, 2013

It has a been a long and seemingly complicated journey for President Obama when it comes to speaking about racism.  With a desire to recognize the history he made by being elected twice, but at the same time rise above racial tones and be a leader for the entire country meant he felt a need to limit his words on matters that struck to the very heart of being black.

But the Trayvon Martin verdict changed that, and we can be proud of what followed.

With complete candor, and poise President Obama took a firm footing behind the podium in the White House press room on Friday, and spoke the words that made many listen.  What he said matters because it is true.  There are those who always carp about everything Obama says, and feel his words now are only meant to incite further anger over the Trayvon Martin case.  That is not a valid response for conservatives to take as there is already a high degree of anger and resentment over the verdict that stunned a nation.

Instead the President’s words (small portion below) are a reminder that we have many more miles to go until we have conquered the ugly side of racism.  I congratulate Obama for the style he has taken as leader of this nation, and am looking forward to the continuing dialogue on this matter across the country.

“There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.  There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  That happens to me — at least before I was a senator . There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.  And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.  The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.   And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

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