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Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about "The

world as it is" and "The world as it should be." And he said that all too often, we accept the distance

between the two, and settle for the world as it is—even when it doesn't reflect our values and aspirations.

 

 

Books by Barack Obama

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance  / The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

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Obligation to Fight for the World as It Should Be

Text of Michelle Obama speech

 

As you might imagine, for Barack, running for President is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother Craig. I can't tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I've felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.

At six-foot-six, I've often felt like Craig was looking down on me too . . . literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn't looking down on me—he was watching over me. And he's been there for me every step of the way since that clear February day 19 months ago, when—with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change—we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that's brought us to this moment.

But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey.  I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector, and my lifelong friend. I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president. I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world—they're the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future—and all our children's future—is my stake in this election.  

And I come here as a daughter—raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother's love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

My Dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing—even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss.  He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.

He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child can receive: never doubting for a single minute that you're loved, and cherished, and have a place in this world. And thanks to their faith and hard work, we both were able to go on to college. So I know firsthand from their lives—and mine—that the American Dream endures.

And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he'd grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children—and all children in this nation—to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he'd done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down, and jobs dried up. And he'd been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.

The people gathered together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life. They were parents living paycheck to paycheck; grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income; men frustrated that they couldn't support their families after their jobs disappeared. Those folks weren't asking for a handout or a shortcut. They were ready to work—they wanted to contribute. They believed—like you and I believe—that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.

Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about "The world as it is" and "The world as it should be." And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and settle for the world as it is—even when it doesn't reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we know what our world should look like. We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves—to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn't that the great American story?

It's the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in town squares and high school gyms—people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had—refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals. It is because of their will and determination that this week, we celebrate two anniversaries: the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.

I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history—knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I've met all across this country: People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift—without disappointment, without regret—that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they're working for.

The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it. The young people across America serving our communities—teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day. People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters—and sons—can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher. People like Joe Biden, who's never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won't do—that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be. That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack's journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope. That is why I love this country.

And in my own life, in my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That's why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us—no matter what our age or background or walk of life—each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation. It's a belief Barack shares—a belief at the heart of his life's work.

It's what he did all those years ago, on the streets of Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and afterschool programs to keep kids safe—working block by block to help people lift up their families. It's what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work. It's what he's done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs and benefits and health care—including mental health care.

That's why he's running—to end the war in Iraq responsibly, to build an economy that lifts every family, to make health care available for every American, and to make sure every child in this nation gets a world class education all the way from preschool to college. That's what Barack Obama will do as President of the United States of America.

He'll achieve these goals the same way he always has—by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn't care where you're from, or what your background is, or what party—if any—you belong to. That's not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us—our belief in America's promise, our commitment to our children's future—is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.

It was strong enough to bring hope to those neighborhoods in Chicago. It was strong enough to bring hope to the mother he met worried about her child in Iraq; hope to the man who's unemployed, but can't afford gas to find a job; hope to the student working nights to pay for her sister's health care, sleeping just a few hours a day.

And it was strong enough to bring hope to people who came out on a cold Iowa night and became the first voices in this chorus for change that's been echoed by millions of Americans from every corner of this nation. Millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams; that Barack will fight for people like them; and that Barack will finally bring the change we need.

And in the end, after all that's happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail's pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he'd struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father's love.

And as I tuck that little girl and her little sister into bed at night, I think about how one day, they'll have families of their own. And one day, they—and your sons and daughters—will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They'll tell them how this time—we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country—where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House—we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

So tonight, in honor of my father's memory and my daughters' future—out of gratitude to those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment—let us devote ourselves to finishing their work; let us work together to fulfill their hopes; and let us stand together to elect Barack Obama President of the United States of America. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Michelle Obama Keynote Address at DNC (video) / Michele Obama Speech Video

posted 26 August 2008 

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Responses

I was positively impressed by Michelle Obama's speech, and (as a footnote) found the unexpected presentation by her brother most gratifying.   According to Wikipedia, Craig Robinson, the older brother of Michelle Obama, is "the head men's basketball coach at Oregon State University, stands 6' 6", was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year at Princeton University, graduating in 1983 with an AB in Sociology. He is the fourth highest scorer in school history. He earned an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1992.

Robinson was drafted in the fourth round of the 1983 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, but never played in the league. He played professionally in Europe, returning to the U.S. in 1988 to become an assistant coach at the Illinois Institute of Technology."

Of course, none of this has anything to do with the economic or foreign policy of  the USA.  It does not address the big hit I am taking thanks to the inflationary policies of the Fed.   Those of us drawing Social Security and who are able to continue working are able to maintain financial assets, but those who are dependent on Social Security income below $20,000 are barely able to survive. 

Classes started yesterday.  I have a freshman seminar which is a bit too large, and an advanced course in American intellectual history, 1607-1865.  Both classes are filled, so the total number is fifty five.  There are three Asians, possibly more, but only one person who looks as if she might have proximate African roots.

Afro-American enrollments in the big ten average less than 4% according to available estimates.  In a typical semester, I have come to expect 1.9 Afro-American students, but no more, but this semester, I have not been able to identify any.  Thanks to Ward Connelly, I may have fewer in the future.  The supposedly elitist University of Michigan claims a 5.8% African American enrollment. Wilson  

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I like very much what you have written. There's lots of information packed in; all connected in one way or another to issues talked about at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) or in their platform, briefly the decrease in the availability of opportunity and our wrecked economy brought on by the shift in wealth to the super-rich. As you see above I have given Michele's speech a name.

You may want to count the number of times in which the word "work" or its variation is used in her text, maybe more as a noun. It is very interesting how in this context it does a double duty as both noun and verb, thus providing an amazing energy as image and action. But all under control and restraint, more feminine than the masculinity that Hillary exerts. 

Of course this speech seeks to go after the white blue collar workers of American (the last bastion of anti-black personal racism in America) and how the speech was designed to appeal to this group of Americans, who are very unlikely to vote for the Obamas to be in the White House. They are not just in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but they exist throughout the country—North, South, East, and West. They have been the backbone of the Republican Party since the times of Richard Nixon. They are the spiritual grandsons and great grandsons of what used to be called the Dixiecrats.

Of course, the DNC will say nothing at all about affirmative action for fear of offending this group. Of course, Obama has not altogether abandoned this issue but he has nuanced it in such a way none knows what he has in mind.  As far as Craig's speech the most memorable fact of the Robinson household was that he and his sister were limited to one hour of TV and that seemed to have been the Brady Bunch, which I assume was the white middle class family on which they modeled their own lives imaginatively.

In any case the Robinsons and the Obamas have placed the weight on “white America” to live up to its ideals and to its pocketbooks. They have less than 70 days to create a new America and to give the old one a decent and respectful burial.—Rudy

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Rudy, the only "family" show on t.v. when the Robinsons were growing up was the Brady Bunch (and its look-alikes "Little House on the Prairie," "The Waltons," etc.), which featured White, middle-class, traditional North Americans. The fathers went to work; the mothers stayed home to cook and clean; and the kids played with the dog. Yuk! What a Norman Rockwell depiction of American life that even the actors who played the parts now regurgitate over. Where were today's alcoholic uncles, Lesbian grandmas, Sapphire mamas, drug-dealing cousins, and pregnant teenage sisters, all of whom make life interesting, exciting, and far from bland?

Tavis Smiley is still being petulant. A friend told me that she caught a bit of MSNBC, which had a panel with Smiley, West, Jesse Jackson, Jr. (wasn't he brilliant and statesman-like last night?), and a couple of other Blacks. Anyway, Smiley made a comment like, "If we have to give up blackness, then we shouldn't vote for Obama." He's still smarting over Barack's failure to attend HIS (Smiley's) conference in New Orleans. I am just too disgusted with him!—Miriam

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Hi, Rudy. I've been reading [Douglas A. Blackmon's] Slavery by Another Name [: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008)]. There is a critical scene in the book when a white jury is called upon to convict some local plantation/slave holding kidnappers for illegally keeping Black people in bondage—forcing them to work in Alabama in the early 1900s. These trials were being watched closely even by the White House. The judge prevailed upon the jury to prove that the South could stand for justice and overcome their past. They failed. They let the culprits go free and the judge and the prosecutor who had tried to bring an end to state-sanctioned profiteering from the sale and re-sale of Black men, women, and children were stymied by white loyalty to white folks. This was followed by the film, The Birth of a Nation and white supremacy myths gained greater power—all across the nation. This kind of denial seems to be endemic in the nation's past. This is truly an historic moment to see if they can let go. . .or if we can mobilize enough young people and "free-thinking" white folks to defeat this sickness/psychosis/dysconsciousness. Ham-mercy, Joyce

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Michelle Obama Addresses Convention:

Heartfelt Speech Turns Undecided’s Fears into Tears

By Lloyd Williams

“I know firsthand . . . that the American Dream endures . . . That is why I love this country.” – Michelle Obama, August 25, 2008

On February 18th of this year, Michelle Obama said at a rally in Milwaukee that “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” Ever since, that quote has haunted her, as the question of her patriotism has remained the subject of speculation by everyone from right-wing pundits and bloggers to the New Yorker Magazine which put a caricature of her on the cover as a wild-eyed, wilder-haired, machine gun-wielding radical in combat fatigues.

Fortunately, on the opening night of the Democratic Convention, Michelle got a national platform to prove all her detractors wrong. And she made the most of that opportunity, passionately delivering a heartfelt speech in which she credited her sacrificing, hard-working parents with her success for having instilled her with traditional Puritanical values.

The spirited 20-minute address, frequently interrupted by applause, deliberately wound its way from her humble roots to her becoming a lawyer and returning to Chicago where she’s remained committed to social causes even after marrying Barack and starting a family. The ostensible aim of these undoubtedly carefully-crafted remarks was to position herself in the mainstream in the eyes of Middle America as opposed to on the lunatic fringe.

Her words undoubtedly resonated with blacks as a recognizable story of sacrifice and struggle en route to overcoming the odds. More importantly, via the use of catchphrases like “I love this country” and “God bless America,” she probably reached plenty of skeptics and undecideds still sitting on the fence as she related how very grateful she is to have achieved the American Dream.

At the conclusion, the Obamas’ adorable little girls, Natasha and Malia Ann, joining mommy onstage to wave to daddy in Missouri served as the perfect icing on the proverbial cake. Judging by the uniformly-positive, often teary-eyed response from even some former detractors interviewed after the airing, it’s safe to say that Michelle has finally managed to put the loyalty controversy behind her once and for all.

 Perhaps the campaign will now finally be allowed to focus on the substantive issues. After all, we do still have two wars, runaway inflation, mounting unemployment figures, a sinking dollar, a banking crisis, global warming, the housing market collapse, outsourcing, and a host of other worries to worry about.  

Attorney Lloyd Williams is a graduate of the Wharton School and a member of the NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.

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Go, Tell Michelle
African American Women Write to the New First Lady

Edited Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram

 

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

By Ron Suskind

A new book offering an insider's account of the White House's response to the financial crisis says that U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner ignored an order from President Barack Obama calling for reconstruction of major banks. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, the incident is just one of several in which Obama struggled with a divided group of advisers, some of whom he didn't initially consider for their high-profile roles. Suskind interviewed more than 200 people, including Obama, Geithner and other top officials . . . The book states Geithner and the Treasury Department ignored a March 2009 order to consider dissolving banking giant Citigroup while continuing stress tests on banks, which were burdened with toxic mortgage assets. . . .Suskind states that Obama accepts the blame for mismanagement in his administration while noting that restructuring the financial system was complicated and could have resulted in deeper financial harm. . . . In a February 2011 interview with Suskind, Obama acknowledges another ongoing criticism—that he is too focused on policy and not on telling a larger story, one the public could relate to. Obama is quoted as saying he was elected in part because "he had connected our current predicaments with the broader arc of American history," but that such a "narrative thread" had been lost.—Gopusa

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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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 Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 7 April 2012

 

 

 

Home    Obama 2008 Table   Speeches and Sermons Table

Related files:  Women Talking to Michele  America, We Cannot Turn Back  Obligation to Fight for the World as It Should Be  The American Dream is Under Siege   Time to Take Back the Country We Love 

The America George Bush Has Left Us   We Must Listen and Lead by Example   Reaching Racial Heights   A Theology of Obligation & Liberation