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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What Change Looks Like
President Barack Obama
historic vote in the House to send health reform to
the President, he speaks to all
Americans on the
change they will finally see as they are given back
control over their own health care
everybody. Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk
and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year
of sustained effort and debate, the United States
Congress finally declared that America’s workers and
America's families and America's small businesses
deserve the security of knowing that here, in this
country, neither illness nor accident should
endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to
Tonight, at a
time when the pundits said it was no longer
possible, we rose above the weight of our politics.
We pushed back on the undue influence of special
interests. We didn't give in to mistrust or to
cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are
still a people capable of doing big things and
tackling our biggest challenges. We proved that this
government of the people and by the people—still
works for the people.
I want to thank
every member of Congress who stood up tonight with
courage and conviction to make health care reform a
reality. And I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a
lot of people. But it was the right vote. I want to
thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her extraordinary
leadership, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and
Majority Whip Jim Clyburn for their commitment to
getting the job done. I want to thank my outstanding
Vice President, Joe Biden, and my wonderful
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen
Sebelius, for their fantastic work on this issue. I
want to thank the many staffers in Congress, and my
own incredible staff in the White House, who have
worked tirelessly over the past year with Americans
of all walks of life to forge a reform package
finally worthy of the people we were sent here to
answers the dreams of so many who have fought for
this reform. To every unsung American who took the
time to sit down and write a letter or type out an
e-mail hoping your voice would be heard—it
has been heard tonight. To the untold numbers who
knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized
and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change
in this country comes not from the top down, but
from the bottom up—let
me reaffirm that conviction: This moment is possible
because of you.
importantly, today’s vote answers the prayers of
every American who has hoped deeply for something to
be done about a health care system that works for
insurance companies, but not for ordinary people.
For most Americans, this debate has never been about
abstractions, the fight between right and left,
Republican and Democrat—it’s
always been about something far more personal. It’s
about every American who knows the shock of opening
an envelope to see that their premiums just shot up
again when times are already tough enough. It’s
about every parent who knows the desperation of
trying to cover a child with a chronic illness only
to be told “no” again and again and again. It’s
about every small business owner forced to choose
between insuring employees and staying open for
business. They are why we committed ourselves to
is not a victory for any one party—it's
a victory for them. It's a victory for the American
people. And it's a victory for common sense.
probably goes without saying that tonight’s vote
will give rise to a frenzy of instant analysis.
There will be tallies of Washington winners and
losers, predictions about what it means for
Democrats and Republicans, for my poll numbers, for
my administration. But long after the debate fades
away and the prognostication fades away and the dust
settles, what will remain standing is not the
government-run system some feared, or the status quo
that serves the interests of the insurance industry,
but a health care system that incorporates ideas
from both parties—a
system that works better for the American people.
If you have
health insurance, this reform just gave you more
control by reining in the worst excesses and abuses
of the insurance industry with some of the toughest
consumer protections this country has ever known—so
that you are actually getting what you pay for.
If you don’t
have insurance, this reform gives you a chance to be
a part of a big purchasing pool that will give you
choice and competition and cheaper prices for
insurance. And it includes the largest health care
tax cut for working families and small businesses in
that if you lose your job and you change jobs, start
that new business, you’ll finally be able to
purchase quality, affordable care and the security
and peace of mind that comes with it.
This reform is
the right thing to do for our seniors. It makes
Medicare stronger and more solvent, extending its
life by almost a decade. And it’s the right thing to
do for our future. It will reduce our deficit by
more than $100 billion over the next decade, and
more than $1 trillion in the decade after that.
So this isn’t
radical reform. But it is major reform. This
legislation will not fix everything that ails our
health care system. But it moves us decisively in
the right direction. This is what change looks like.
momentous as this day is, it's not the end of this
journey. On Tuesday, the Senate will take up
revisions to this legislation that the House has
embraced, and these are revisions that have
strengthened this law and removed provisions that
had no place in it. Some have predicted another
siege of parliamentary maneuvering in order to delay
adoption of these improvements. I hope that’s not
the case. It’s time to bring this debate to a close
and begin the hard work of implementing this reform
properly on behalf of the American people. This
year, and in years to come, we have a solemn
responsibility to do it right.
Nor does this
day represent the end of the work that faces our
country. The work of revitalizing our economy goes
on. The work of promoting private sector job
creation goes on. The work of putting American
families’ dreams back within reach goes on. And we
march on, with renewed confidence, energized by this
victory on their behalf.
In the end,
what this day represents is another stone firmly
laid in the foundation of the American Dream.
Tonight, we answered the call of history as so many
generations of Americans have before us. When faced
with crisis, we did not shrink from our challenge—we
overcame it. We did not avoid our responsibility—we
embraced it. We did not fear our future—we
Thank you, God bless you, and
may God bless the United States of America.
* * * *
at Signing of the
Health Insurance Reform Bill
23, March 2010
Today, after almost a century of
trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have
been tallied—health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of
It is fitting that Congress passed this
historic legislation this week. For as we mark the turning of spring, we
also mark a new season in America. In a few moments, when I sign this bill,
all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality
And while the Senate still has a last
round of improvements to make on this historic legislation—and these are
improvements I’m confident they will make swiftly—the bill I’m signing will
set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for, and
marched for, and hungered to see.
It will take four years to implement
fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly.
We need to get this right. But a host of desperately needed reforms will
take effect right away.
This year, we’ll start offering tax
credits to about 4 million small businessmen and women to help them cover
the cost of insurance for their employees. That happens this year.
This year, tens of thousands of
uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who
have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage
they need. That happens this year.
This year, insurance companies will no
longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. They won’t be
able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of
care they can receive.
This year, all new insurance plans will
be required to offer free preventive care. And this year, young adults will
be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26 years old. That
happens this year.
And this year, seniors who fall in the
coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help.
They’ll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions, and that will, over
time, fill in the doughnut hole. And I want seniors to know, despite what
some have said, these reforms will not cut your guaranteed benefits. In
fact, under this law, Americans on Medicare will receive free preventive
care without co-payments or deductibles. That begins this year.
Once this reform is implemented, health
insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where
uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase
affordable, quality insurance. They will be able to be part of a big pool
and get the same good deal that members of Congress get. That’s what’s
going to happen under this reform. And when this exchange is up and
running, millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford
coverage, which represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care
in history. That's what this reform is about.
This legislation will also lower costs
for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our
deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades. It is paid for. It is
fiscally responsible. And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our
economy. That's part of what all of you together worked on and made
That our generation is able to succeed
in passing this reform is a testament to the persistence—and the
character—of the American people, who championed this cause; who mobilized;
who organized; who believed that people who love this country can change it.
It’s also a testament to the historic
leadership—and uncommon courage—of the men and women of the United States
Congress, who’ve taken their lumps during this difficult debate.
You know, there are few tougher jobs in
politics or government than leading one of our legislative chambers. In
each chamber, there are men and women who come from different places and
face different pressures, who reach different conclusions about the same
things and feel deeply concerned about different things.
By necessity, leaders have to speak to
those different concerns. It isn’t always tidy; it is almost never easy.
But perhaps the greatest—and most difficult—challenge is to cobble together
out of those differences the sense of common interest and common purpose
that’s required to advance the dreams of all people -- especially in a
country as large and diverse as ours.
And we are blessed by leaders in each
chamber who not only do their jobs very well but who never lost sight of
that larger mission. They didn’t play for the short term; they didn’t play
to the polls or to politics: One of the best speakers the House of
Representatives has ever had, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
One of the best majority leaders the
Senate has ever had, Mr. Harry Reid.
To all of the terrific committee
chairs, all the members of Congress who did what was difficult, but did what
was right, and passed health care reform—not just this generation of
Americans will thank you, but the next generation of Americans will thank
And of course, this victory was also
made possible by the painstaking work of members of this administration,
including our outstanding Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen
Sebelius—and one of the unsung heroes of this effort, an extraordinary woman
who led the reform effort from the White House, Nancy-Ann DeParle. Where’s
Today, I’m signing this reform bill
into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as
she battled cancer in her final days.
I’m signing it for Ryan Smith, who’s
here today. He runs a small business with five employees. He’s trying to
do the right thing, paying half the cost of coverage for his workers. This
bill will help him afford that coverage.
I’m signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas
Owens, who’s also here. Marcelas lost his mom to an illness. And she
didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the care that she needed. So in
her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children
have to go through what his family has experienced.
I’m signing it for Natoma Canfield.
Natoma had to give up her health coverage after her rates were jacked up by
more than 40 percent. She was terrified that an illness would mean she’d
lose the house that her parents built, so she gave up her insurance. Now
she’s lying in a hospital bed, as we speak, faced with just such an illness,
praying that she can somehow afford to get well without insurance. Natoma’s
family is here today because Natoma can’t be. And her sister Connie is
here. Connie, stand up.
I’m signing this bill for all the
leaders who took up this cause through the generations—from Teddy Roosevelt
to Franklin Roosevelt, from Harry Truman, to Lyndon Johnson, from Bill and
Hillary Clinton, to one of the deans who’s been fighting this so long, John
Dingell. To Senator Ted Kennedy. And it’s fitting that Ted’s widow, Vicki,
is here—it’s fitting that Teddy’s widow, Vicki, is here; and his niece
Caroline; his son Patrick, whose vote helped make this reform a reality.
I remember seeing Ted walk through that
door in a summit in this room a year ago—one of his last public
appearances. And it was hard for him to make it. But he was confident that
we would do the right thing.
Our presence here today is remarkable
and improbable. With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the
game-playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at
times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing;
to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve.
It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this
But today, we are affirming that
essential truth—a truth every generation is called to rediscover for
itself—that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. We are
not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust. We don't fall prey to
fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That’s not who we are.
That’s not how we got here.
We are a nation that faces its
challenges and accepts its responsibilities. We are a nation that does what
is hard. What is necessary. What is right. Here, in this country, we
shape our own destiny. That is what we do. That is who we are. That is
what makes us the United States of America.
And we have now just enshrined, as soon
as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some
basic security when it comes to their health care. And it is an
extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all
the advocates all across the country.
So, thank you. Thank you. God bless
you, and may God bless the United States. Thank you. Thank you.
All right, I would now like to call up
to stage some of the members of Congress who helped make this day possible,
and some of the Americans who will benefit from these reforms. And we’re
going to sign this bill.
This is going to take a little while. I’ve got to use
every pen, so it’s going to take a really long time. I didn’t practice.
(The bill is signed.)
We are done.
11:56 A.M. EDT
* * * *
Fidel Castro applauds US health bill—
"It is really incredible that 234 years after the Declaration of
Independence . . . the government of that country has approved medical
attention for the majority of its citizens, something that Cuba was able to
do half a century ago," Castro wrote. The longtime Cuban leader — who ceded
power to his brother Raul in 2008 — has continued to pronounce his thoughts
on world issues though frequent essays, titled "Reflections," which are
published in state newspapers. Cuba provides free health care and education
to all its citizens, and heavily subsidizes food, housing, utilities and
transportation, policies that have earned it global praise. The government
has warned that some of those benefits are no longer sustainable given
Cuba's ever-struggling economy, though it has so far not made major changes.
. . . In Thursday's essay, Castro called
Obama a "fanatic believer in capitalist imperialism" but also praised him as
"unquestionably intelligent." "I hope that the stupid things he sometimes
says about Cuba don't cloud over that intelligence," he said.
* * * *
'Go For It,' Obama Tells Republicans On Health Care Repeal
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Health reform in the United States:
Reflections of Fidel—BARACK Obama is a fanatical believer in the
imperialist capitalist system imposed by the United States on the world.
"God bless the United States," he ends his speeches. Some of his acts
wounded the sensibility of world opinion, which viewed with sympathy the
African-American candidate’s victory over that country’s extreme right-wing
candidate. Basing himself on one of the worst economic crises that the world
has ever seen, and the pain caused by young Americans who lost their lives
or were injured or mutilated in his predecessor’s genocidal wars of
conquest, he won the votes of the majority of 50% of Americans who deign to
go to the polls in that democratic country.
Out of an elemental sense of ethics,
Obama should have abstained from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize when he had
already decided to send 40,000 soldiers to an absurd war in the heart of
Asia.The current administration’s militarist policies, its plunder of
natural resources and unequal exchange with the poor countries of the Third
World are in no way different from those of its predecessors, almost all of
them extremely right-wing, with some exceptions, throughout the past
* * *
The Bridge The Life and
Rise of Barack Obama
By David Remnick
A conversation with Gwen
Ifill of PBS
and author of
The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the
Age of Obama
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* * * * *
The Last Holiday: A Memoir
By Gil Scott Heron
Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. —Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)
* * *
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
Caucasian babies. 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
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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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If you like this page consider making a donation
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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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
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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(Books, DVDs, Music)
posted 22 March