Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the
Obama's Greatest Speeches (CD set)
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America, We Cannot Turn Back
Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin, and to all my
fellow citizens of this great nation, with profound
gratitude and great humility, I accept your
nomination for presidency of the United States.
Let me—let me
express—let me express my thanks to the historic
slate of candidates who accompanied me on this
journey, and especially the one who traveled the
farthest, a champion for working Americans and an
inspiration to my daughters and to yours, Hillary
Clinton, to President Bill Clinton, who made last
night the case for change as only he can make it, to
Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service, and
to the next vice president of the United States, Joe
Biden, I thank you.
I am grateful
to finish this journey with one of the finest
statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone
from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak
train he still takes home every night.
To the love of
my life, our next first lady, Michelle Obama, and to
Malia and Sasha, I love you so much, and I am so
proud of you.
Four years ago,
I stood before you and told you my story, of the
brief union between a young man from Kenya and a
young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or
well-known, but shared a belief that in America
their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.
It is that
promise that's always set this country apart, that
through hard work and sacrifice each of us can
pursue our individual dreams, but still come
together as one American family, to ensure that the
next generation can pursue their dreams, as well.
That's why I stand here tonight. Because for 232
years, at each moment when that promise was in
jeopardy, ordinary men and women—students and
soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and
janitors—found the courage to keep it alive.
We meet at one
of those defining moments, a moment when our nation
is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the
American promise has been threatened once more.
Americans are out of work and more are working
harder for less. More of you have lost your homes
and even more are watching your home values plummet.
More of you have cars you can't afford to drive,
credit cards, bills you can't afford to pay, and
tuition that's beyond your reach.
challenges are not all of government's making. But
the failure to respond is a direct result of a
broken politics in Washington and the failed
policies of George W. Bush.
America, we are
better than these last eight years. We are a better
country than this.
This country is
more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the
brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away
from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.
We're a better
country than one where a man in Indiana has to pack
up the equipment that he's worked on for 20 years
and watch as it's shipped off to China, and then
chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure
when he went home to tell his family the news.
We are more
compassionate than a government that lets veterans
sleep on our streets and families slide into
poverty, that sits on its hands while a major
American city drowns before our eyes.
tonight, I say to the people of America, to
Democrats and Republicans and independents across
this great land: Enough. This moment, this moment,
this election is our chance to keep, in the 21st
century, the American promise alive.
week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you
two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask
this country for a third.
And we are
here—we are here because we love this country too
much to let the next four years look just like the
4th, on November 4th, we must stand up and say:
"Eight is enough."
Now, now, let
me—let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee,
John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country
with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe
him our gratitude and our respect.
And next week,
we'll also hear about those occasions when he's
broken with his party as evidence that he can
deliver the change that we need. But the record's
clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90
percent of the time.
likes to talk about judgment, but, really, what does
it say about your judgment when you think George
Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the
time? I don't know about you, but I am not ready to
take a 10 percent chance on change.
The truth is,
on issue after issue that would make a difference in
your lives—on health care, and education, and the
economy—Senator McCain has been anything but
He said that
our economy has made great progress under this
president. He said that the fundamentals of the
economy are strong.
And when one of
his chief advisers, the man who wrote his economic
plan, was talking about the anxieties that Americans
are feeling, he said that we were just suffering
from a mental recession and that we've become, and I
quote, "a nation of whiners."
A nation of
whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a
Michigan plant who, after they found out it was
closing, kept showing up every day and working as
hard as ever, because they knew there were people
who counted on the brakes that they made.
Tell that to
the military families who shoulder their burdens
silently as they watch their loved ones leave for
their third, or fourth, or fifth tour of duty.
These are not
whiners. They work hard, and they give back, and
they keep going without complaint. These are the
Americans I know. Now, I don't believe that Senator
McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of
Americans; I just think he doesn't know.
Why else would
he define middle-class as someone making under $5
million a year? How else could he propose hundreds
of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and
oil companies, but not one penny of tax relief to
more than 100 million Americans?
How else could
he offer a health care plan that would actually tax
people's benefits, or an education plan that would
do nothing to help families pay for college, or a
plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble
your retirement? It's not because John McCain
doesn't care; it's because John McCain doesn't get
For over two
decades—for over two decades, he's subscribed to
that old, discredited Republican philosophy: Give
more and more to those with the most and hope that
prosperity trickles down to everyone else.
they call this the "Ownership Society," but what it
really means is that you're on your own. Out of
work? Tough luck, you're on your own. No health
care? The market will fix it. You're on your own.
Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own
bootstraps, even if you don't have boots. You are on
Well, it's time
for them to own their failure. It's time for us to
change America. And that's why I'm running for
president of the United States.
You see, you
see, we Democrats have a very different measure of
what constitutes progress in this country. We
measure progress by how many people can find a job
that pays the mortgage, whether you can put a little
extra money away at the end of each month so you can
someday watch your child receive her college
progress in the 23 million new jobs that were
created when Bill Clinton was president, when the
average American family saw its income go up $7,500
instead of go down $2,000, like it has under George
We measure the
strength of our economy not by the number of
billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune
500, but by whether someone with a good idea can
take a risk and start a new business, or whether the
waitress who lives on tips can take a day off and
look after a sick kid without losing her job, an
economy that honors the dignity of work.
fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are
whether we are living up to that fundamental promise
that has made this country great, a promise that is
the only reason I am standing here tonight.
Because, in the
faces of those young veterans who come back from
Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who
signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's
army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the
chance to go to college on the G.I. Bill.
In the face of
that young student, who sleeps just three hours
before working the night shift, I think about my
mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while
she worked and earned her degree, who once turned to
food stamps, but was still able to send us to the
best schools in the country with the help of student
loans and scholarships.
When I listen
to another worker tell me that his factory has shut
down, I remember all those men and women on the
South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for
two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.
And when I hear
a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her
own business or making her way in the world, I think
about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the
secretarial pool to middle management, despite years
of being passed over for promotions because she was
She's the one
who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put
off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so
that I could have a better life. She poured
everything she had into me. And although she can no
longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight
and that tonight is her night, as well.
Now, I don't
know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that
celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are
my heroes; theirs are the stories that shaped my
life. And it is on behalf of them that I intend to
win this election and keep our promise alive as
president of the United States.
What is that
American promise? It's a promise that says each of
us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we
will, but that we also have obligations to treat
each other with dignity and respect.
It's a promise
that says the market should reward drive and
innovation and generate growth, but that businesses
should live up to their responsibilities to create
American jobs, to look out for American workers, and
play by the rules of the road.
Ours is a
promise that says government cannot solve all our
problems, but what it should do is that which we
cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and
provide every child a decent education; keep our
water clean and our toys safe; invest in new
schools, and new roads, and science, and technology.
should work for us, not against us. It should help
us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not
just for those with the most money and influence,
but for every American who's willing to work.
promise of America, the idea that we are responsible
for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one
nation, the fundamental belief that I am my
brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper.
promise we need to keep. That's the change we need
right now. So—so let me —let me spell out exactly
what that change would mean if I am president.
Change means a
tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote
it, but the American workers and small businesses
who deserve it. You know, unlike John McCain, I will
stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs
overseas, and I will start giving them to companies
that create good jobs right here in America. I'll
eliminate capital gains taxes for the small
businesses and start-ups that will create the
high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
now—I will cut taxes—cut taxes—for 95 percent of all
working families, because, in an economy like this,
the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the
And for the
sake of our economy, our security, and the future of
our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In
10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil
from the Middle East. We will do this.
Washington—Washington has been talking about our oil
addiction for the last 30 years. And, by the way,
John McCain has been there for 26 of them. And in
that time, he has said "no" to higher
fuel-efficiency standards for cars, "no" to
investments in renewable energy, "no" to renewable
fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil
than we had on the day that Senator McCain took
Now is the time
to end this addiction and to understand that
drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term
solution, not even close.
as president, I will tap our natural gas reserves,
invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to
safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto
companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars
of the future are built right here in America. I'll
make it easier for the American people to afford
these new cars.
And I'll invest
$150 billion over the next decade in affordable,
renewable sources of energy—wind power, and solar
power, and the next generation of biofuels—an
investment that will lead to new industries and five
million new jobs that pay well and can't be
America, now is
not the time for small plans. Now is the time to
finally meet our moral obligation to provide every
child a world-class education, because it will take
nothing less to compete in the global economy.
Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were
given a chance at an education. And I will not
settle for an America where some kids don't have
that chance. I'll invest in early childhood
education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and
pay them higher salaries, and give them more
support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher
standards and more accountability.
And we will
keep our promise to every young American: If you
commit to serving your community or our country, we
will make sure you can afford a college education.
Now—now is the
time to finally keep the promise of affordable,
accessible health care for every single American. If
you have health care—if you have health care, my
plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll
be able to get the same kind of coverage that
members of Congress give themselves.
And as someone
who watched my mother argue with insurance companies
while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make
certain those companies stop discriminating against
those who are sick and need care the most.
Now is the time
to help families with paid sick days and better
family leave, because nobody in America should have
to choose between keeping their job and caring for a
sick child or an ailing parent.
Now is the time
to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions
are protected ahead of CEO bonuses, and the time to
protect Social Security for future generations.
And now is the
time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal
day's work, because I want my daughters to have the
exact same opportunities as your sons.
Now, many of
these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid
out how I'll pay for every dime: by closing
corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help
America grow. But I will also go through the federal
budget line by line, eliminating programs that no
longer work and making the ones we do need work
better and cost less, because we cannot meet
21st-century challenges with a 20th-century
Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling
America's promise will require more than just money.
It will require a renewed sense of responsibility
from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy
called our intellectual and moral strength.
must lead on energy independence, but each of us
must do our part to make our homes and businesses
Yes, we must
provide more ladders to success for young men who
fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must
also admit that programs alone can't replace
parents, that government can't turn off the
television and make a child do her homework, that
fathers must take more responsibility to provide
love and guidance to their children.
responsibility and mutual responsibility, that's the
essence of America's promise. And just as we keep
our promise to the next generation here at home, so
must we keep America's promise abroad.
If John McCain
wants to have a debate about who has the temperament
and judgment to serve as the next
commander-in-chief, that's a debate I'm ready to
Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just
days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war,
knowing that it would distract us from the real
threats that we face.
McCain said we could just muddle through in
Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more
troops to finish the fight against the terrorists
who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear
that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his
lieutenants if we have them in our sights.
You know, John
McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to
the gates of Hell, but he won't even follow him to
the cave where he lives.
today, as my call for a timeframe to remove our
troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi
government and even the Bush administration, even
after we learned that Iraq has $79 billion in
surplus while we are wallowing in deficit, John
McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a
That's not the
judgment we need; that won't keep America safe. We
need a president who can face the threats of the
future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.
defeat—you don't defeat a terrorist network that
operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You
don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking
tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for
Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances.
If John McCain
wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and
bad strategy, that is his choice, but that is not
the change that America needs.
We are the
party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So
don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this
country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us
safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered
the legacy that generations of Americans, Democrats
and Republicans, have built, and we are here to
restore that legacy.
commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend
this nation, but I will only send our troops into
harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred
commitment to give them the equipment they need in
battle and the care and benefits they deserve when
they come home.
I will end this
war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against
Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will
rebuild our military to meet future conflicts, but I
will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can
prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb
I will build
new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st
century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation,
poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.
And I will
restore our moral standing so that America is once
again that last, best hope for all who are called to
the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace,
and who yearn for a better future.
These are the
policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I
look forward to debating them with John McCain.
But what I will
not do is suggest that the senator takes his
positions for political purposes, because one of the
things that we have to change in our politics is the
idea that people cannot disagree without challenging
each other's character and each other's patriotism.
The times are
too serious, the stakes are too high for this same
partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism
has no party. I love this country, and so do you,
and so does John McCain.
The men and
women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats
and Republicans and independents, but they have
fought together, and bled together, and some died
together under the same proud flag. They have not
served a red America or a blue America; they have
served the United States of America. So I've got
news for you, John McCain: We all put our country
work will not be easy. The challenges we face
require tough choices. And Democrats, as well as
Republicans, will need to cast off the worn-out
ideas and politics of the past, for part of what has
been lost these past eight years can't just be
measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits.
What has also been lost is our sense of common
purpose, and that's what we have to restore.
We may not
agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on
reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this
The reality of
gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural
Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang
violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't
uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out
of the hands of criminals.
I know there
are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we
can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and
sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a
hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.
passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know
anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from
her infant child or an employer undercuts American
wages by hiring illegal workers.
But this, too,
is part of America's promise, the promise of a
democracy where we can find the strength and grace
to bridge divides and unite in common effort. I know
there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy
talk. They claim that our insistence on something
larger, something firmer, and more honest in our
public life is just a Trojan horse for higher taxes
and the abandonment of traditional values.
And that's to
be expected, because if you don't have any fresh
ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters.
If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint
your opponent as someone people should run from. You
make a big election about small things.
And you know
what? It's worked before, because it feeds into the
cynicism we all have about government. When
Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem
empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and
again, then it's best to stop hoping and settle for
what you already know.
I get it. I
realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for
this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I
haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.
But I stand before you tonight because all across
America something is stirring. What the naysayers
don't understand is that this election has never
been about me; it's about you. It's about you.
long months, you have stood up, one by one, and
said, "Enough," to the politics of the past. You
understand that, in this election, the greatest risk
we can take is to try the same, old politics with
the same, old players and expect a different result.
You have shown
what history teaches us, that at defining moments
like this one, the change we need doesn't come from
Washington. Change comes to Washington.
happens—change happens because the American people
demand it, because they rise up and insist on new
ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new
time. America, this is one of those moments.
I believe that,
as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming,
because I've seen it, because I've lived it. Because
I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health
care to more children and moved more families from
welfare to work.
I've seen it in
Washington, where we worked across party lines to
open up government and hold lobbyists more
accountable, to give better care for our veterans,
and keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of
And I've seen
it in this campaign, in the young people who voted
for the first time and the young at heart, those who
got involved again after a very long time; in the
Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a
Democratic ballot, but did.
it—I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut
their hours back a day, even though they can't
afford it, than see their friends lose their jobs;
in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb;
in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a
hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.
You know, this
country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but
that's not what makes us rich. We have the most
powerful military on Earth, but that's not what
makes us strong. Our universities and our culture
are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps
the world coming to our shores.
Instead, it is
that American spirit, that American promise, that
pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain;
that binds us together in spite of our differences;
that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but
what is unseen, that better place around the bend.
That promise is
our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to
my daughters when I tuck them in at night and a
promise that you make to yours, a promise that has
led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to
travel west, a promise that led workers to picket
lines and women to reach for the ballot.
And it is that
promise that, 45 years ago today, brought Americans
from every corner of this land to stand together on
a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and
hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his
The men and
women who gathered there could've heard many things.
They could've heard words of anger and discord. They
could've been told to succumb to the fear and
frustrations of so many dreams deferred.
But what the
people heard instead—people of every creed and
color, from every walk of life—is that, in America,
our destiny is inextricably linked, that together
our dreams can be one. "We cannot walk alone," the
preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the
pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot
cannot turn back, not with so much work to be done;
not with so many children to educate, and so many
veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix,
and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with
so many families to protect and so many lives to
cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.
At this moment,
in this election, we must pledge once more to march
into the future. Let us keep that promise, that
American promise, and in the words of scripture hold
firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we
Thank you. God
bless you. And God bless the United States of
Barack Obama Acceptance Speech
* * * * *
Rudy, Happy belated birthday my
brother. I hope you received my birthday gift in the best of health.
Last night, my daughter, who is three years old, beautiful, and smart
decided to make her father her dancing partner for several songs during
Democratic National Convention. It
gave me such joy to see her enthusiasm over the lyrics of such artists
as Stevie Wonder and Michael McDonald. I had readied myself for Senator
Barack Obama's acceptance speech for the Presidency.
Unlike Jesse Jackson's speech of
twenty years ago, which moved me to tears as it was painfully apparent
what experiencing young blacks were facing in the sinister triune of
Reagan's America, I expected that this speech would bring me to a point
of elation just for its rhetorical significance.
Rudy, forgive me for picking olives
off the deviled eggs at the banquet as no one else notices their
presence yet eats what they're served, but does it become more of an act
of political adroitness than a social movement where a candidate that
this media repeated labeled as black/African American can deliver a
speech to AMERICA, and never once mention the words "race" or "black"?
This does not affect my opinion
that he is the far more skilled politician. His speech and the way that
this convention galvanized his base is evident of his presence as a
leader. However, I am not ready to surrender my real sight of segregated
schools, gated communities with restrictive covenants, judicial systems
with an aversion for finding fault with anyone culpable of criminal acts
against black people, for a vision of a "post-racial," colorblind, all
boats rise on the same sea society. We have had blacks in prominent
positions in the White House from Vernon Jordan to Dr. Rice, strong
leaders in Congress that carried the torch such as Rangel, Lewis, and
McKinney, and the judgment of Supreme Court Justice Thomas.
I once again yield to the wisdom of
my elders for guidance but being forty-five, I am one of the
"integration-babies" to whom this Change is to foment and rise in this
nation, and while I agree that the struggle has never lost sight of the
prosperity of the whole nation, it is the continued lapse of memory or
the removal of its stigma by a timeline (ironically, a quota set by both
so-called liberals and conservatives) that black people in these United
States will be treated as American. Be blessed on this day. Peace.
Raymond from Laurel
* * * * *
Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy, I am
THRILLED with McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his VP. Has the man
lost his mind? He is banking his presidential bid on disaffected Hillary
supporters, but Biden is going to tear Palin up. She has no
constituency. She's not known nationally. She's not charismatic; her
speeches are wooden. And she supports drilling in Alaska. (Maybe it's
all about the oil!) His conservative, evangelical base will not favor a
woman. (They're not going to want her hand on the button at 3 a.m.,
should McCain drop dead. Can you imagine her as president?) With 5
children, one of whom is a 4-months old with Downs Syndrome, she's not
going to have much time to campaign. She also knocks out McCain's "lack
of experience" and "no knowledge of foreign affairs" ads.) Plus, she's
pretty, so Cindy is not going to dig that!
I was scared to death that he was
going to pick Mitt Romney, who is smart, articulate and a helluv an
attack dog. Plus, he has a huge constituency, with support in Mass.,
Utah, possibly Michigan, and throughout the West. And he's a business
way Obama/Biden. You've been handed a gift!
* * * * *
Yes, I watched some of the DNC, and I was impressed. Michelle and Barack
Obama may very well be able to offer hope to a nation suffering economic
disaster for many and defeat in a Middle East war. But will working and
middle class Americans vote their interests. The continuing economics of
Reagan-Bush-McCain clearly clash with the interests of working and
middle class folks, but I fear that so many of them will vote with
McCain-Palin. Too many older and professional white woman, even liberal
ones, may be very turn right since Hillary Clinton, their candidate, did
not win the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.
Now the challenge is whether the Obama-Biden ticket can fight off the
McCain-Palin onslaught. I expect that the presidential discourse/discord
leading up to Nov. 4, will get hot and heavy. The divide between these
two camps is crystal clear. Americans will decide to go forward into the
future, which is unknown but certainly better than the eight Bush years,
or retreat into the darkness and disarray of the past. In my judgment,
McCain-Palin represents unabashed social and political retrogression.
McCain was shrewd in selecting Sarah Palin as his right-wing running
mate. I can hope that they lose in November.
I recently completed a review of a recently published book, entitled
African American Perspectives on Political Science, edited by
Wilbur Rich. Perhaps some of our readers might be interested. As always,
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Tavis Smiley Hating On Obama's Monumental DNC Speech
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So Many Miles From Selma—We
haven't heard much about race during the Democratic convention. That's
clearly by design, and in terms of Obama's prospects it's probably a
good thing. A recent New York Times-CBS News poll found that 16 percent
of white voters feared an Obama administration would "favor blacks over
whites." Obama has taken great pains to reassure voters that as
president he would act without racial animus or resentment -- that he
bears no grudges and intends to settle no scores. His success to date
has depended largely on his ability to be seen as a candidate who
happens to be black rather than as "a black candidate." Still, this is an amazing,
Wandering around the convention
hall, I kept running into people with a kind of "pinch me, I'm dreaming"
look in their eyes. I saw Spike Lee, who seems to be everywhere; in a
television interview earlier in the week, he grandiloquently divided
American history into two epochs, "B.B." and "A.B."—Before Barack
and After Barack.
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Union leader: Racism keeps Obama from building
lead—A prominent union leader on Tuesday blamed racism for Sen.
Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) failure to build a big lead over GOP rival Sen.
John McCain. Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of
State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), said many workers are
considering voting for McCain (R-Ariz.) because of his military service
and status as a hero of the Vietnam War. . . . “There are some local
union presidents that are afraid — yes, that’s the word, afraid — to
hand out literature for Barack Obama,” said McEntee. . . . McEntee said
McCain is not a friend of unions and members must campaign for Obama and
spread the message of his support for labor. He said unions will be in
deep trouble if Obama is defeated for the presidency.
* * * * *
I was one of the 80,000 people who
packed into Invesco Field to see Barack Obama claim the Democratic
Presidential Nomination last night. It is hard for me to believe that a
man of African ancestry is this close to becoming the President of the
United States. I have to be honest: while I knew last night would be an
extraordinary historical landmark, I did not expect to leave Denver as a
proud and joyful American. But I did.
Last night, for the first time in
my adult life, I waved an American Flag. It was just a little thing; a
stick and fabric symbol, the same kind ancient veterans in immaculate
uniforms hand out on the 4th of July. In my hand, it felt as light as
air. It was something to be careful with.
I wasn't waving the Red White and
Blue because I am a Democrat, Republican or Independent. This wasn't
about party; it was a personal celebration, shared by the 80,000
different Americans who crammed into that stadium. We came because we
see this election as a chance to shrug off the partisanship of politics
as usual. We came to display our pride, together.
I waved that flag because I believe
that change is finally possible in our country. For too long the people
who form the bedrock of our nation have been left out of the American
Dream. Our greatest leaders have been murdered and destroyed, our
institutions broken. We, our friends and families, work ourselves to
the bone to make ends meet and can expect each day to simply be more of
After last night's historic event,
I woke up convinced that we can realize our beautiful dream. It wasn't
the candidate that changed me. It wasn't the speech. It was the faces
of those around me showing me that we, as Americans, are sick of the
status quo. We are tired of inequality. We are ready to step up to be
leaders in the greatest tradition of the men and women who placed this
flag, this land, into our hands.
I believe we have what it takes to
tackle the contradictions that continue to divide us. We can truly
become the "Change Generation." We face problems unprecedented in human
history, and we must meet them as brothers and sisters. We are going to
have to work harder every day, to convince the skeptical, and
demonstrate the power of the
Beloved Community over and over
again. If we want it, we can do it. Last night we proved it.”
Rob Biko, League of Young Voters
* * *
The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations
By Ira Berlin
Berlin (Many Thousands
Gone) offers a fresh reading of American history through the
prism of the great migrations that made and remade African and
African American life. The first was the forcible deportation of
Africans to North America in the 17th and 18th centuries,
followed by their forced transfer into the American interior
during the 19th century. Then came the migration of the mid-20th
century as African-Americans fled the South for the urban North,
and the arrival of continental Africans and people of African
descent from the Caribbean during the latter part of the 20th
Berlin sees migration and
the reshaping of communities to their new environments as
central to the African-American experience. Movement is a
matter of numbers, and Berlin provides them in detail kept fully readable by
his attention to the cultural products of the shifts. In particular, he
follows the church as it moves, the music as it takes on new themes, and
kinship as it broadens. Berlin's careful scholarship is evidenced in his
rich notes; the ordinary reader will be pleased by the fluidity and clarity
of his prose.—Publishers
* * *
Slavery, migration, and, more recently,
immigration all constitute the making of African Americans, a history older
and far more complex than that of most other Americans. Historian Berlin
explores the four great migrations that have produced the distinct culture
of African Americans: the transatlantic slave trade; the migration of
African slaves from the Atlantic coast inland to southern plantations; the
great migration from the rural South to the urban North, particularly during
World War II; and the latest movement in the Diaspora, the immigration to
the U.S. of people of African descent from Africa, the Caribbean, and
analyzes the movements, the dynamics of changes in customs and mores, as
well as the sense of place developed by African Americans as they adjusted
to each migration, voluntary and involuntary. He explores the changes in
culture, music, politics, social institutions, and economics that defined
each movement and redefined African Americans. Berlin also explores the
latest migration, tensions, and feelings of kinship between native-born
African Americans and newcomers, and the ultimate impact on perceptions of
what it means to be black in America.—Vanessa
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* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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posted 29 August 2008