Election 2008

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The Media Scrutinizes Obama’s Race Speech

March 19, 2008 12:32 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Heralded by some as historic, Barack Obama’s speech addressed the comments of his former pastor and opened up a wider discussion of race in America.

30-Second Summary

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During what The New York Times called a “sweeping assessment of race in America,” Sen. Barack Obama said it was time for the country to “move beyond some of our old racial wounds.”

Obama distanced himself from the controversial comments of his longtime Chicago church pastor, the Rev.  Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who described the United States as fundamentally racist.

Although Obama criticized Wright’s remarks as wrong and divisive, he did not go so far as to renounce the pastor, saying Wright was “like family” to him.

U.S. News & World Report praised the speech as historic, reporting that African-American scholars and leaders believe that “Obama’s words about slavery, black anger, white resentment, and the imperative to move forward” evoke those of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.

“Like King in the past and Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression, he spoke directly to the complexity of the issue at hand, and translated it so it’s part of our nation’s history,” said Walter Earl Fluker, executive director of the Leadership Center at Morehouse College.

However, Kevin D. Williamson at The National Review says that Obama “blew it” with his speech, arguing that it is useless to keep rehashing America’s complex race issues.

“Blaming black America’s problems on the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow isn’t going to cut it, especially if you don’t have some interesting, radical proposal to address those problems,” Williamson said. “Obama has proven himself to be a more-of-the-same politician with a gift for oratory.”

Headline Links: Assessing race in America, Obama calls pastor divisive

Reference: Transcript and video of Obama’s speech

Opinion & Analysis: Obama finally puts race on the table

Praise
Criticism

Reaction: ‘Clinton Glad Obama Gave Speech on Race’

Background: ‘Can Obama Find the Right Words?’

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