Saluting a Dream, and Adapting It for a New Era

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-08-29 04:12Z by Steven

Saluting a Dream, and Adapting It for a New Era

The New York Times
2013-08-28

Peter Baker and Sheryl Gay Stolberg

WASHINGTON — President Obama stepped into the space on Wednesday where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stood, summoning his iconic dream of a colorblind society in a celebration of a half-century of progress and a call to arms for the next generation.

On a day of overcast skies and misty rain, tens of thousands of Americans — black, white and every shade in between — returned to the site of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to listen to the nation’s first black president pay tribute to the pioneers who paved the way for his own ascension to the heights of American government.

“Because they kept marching, America changed,” the president said as Dr. King’s family watched. “Because they marched, a civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, a voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else’s laundry or shining somebody else’s shoes.

“Because they marched,” he added, “city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually, the White House changed.”

The symbolic journey from Dr. King to Mr. Obama on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial animated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom more than any oratory. While Mr. Obama’s line about the White House changing was his only reference to his unique place in history, the power of his presence was lost on no one.

But it also underscored the challenge to a movement to reframe its mission for a new era. With an African-American in the Oval Office, it is harder to argue about political empowerment than it was in 1963, and much of the day’s message centered on tackling persistent economic disparity, as well as newer frontiers of civil rights like equality for gay men and lesbians…

Read the entire article here. Read President Obama’s full remarks here.

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President, Not Preacher, but Speaking More on Race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-08-29 01:43Z by Steven

President, Not Preacher, but Speaking More on Race

The New York Times
2013-08-27

Peter Baker

WASHINGTON — Sitting in the Roosevelt Room with prominent African-American religious leaders, President Obama on Monday mused about how far the nation had come in the 50 years since the March on Washington led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and how far it still had to go.

A president who often shies away from talking about race is set to deliver his own speech on Wednesday from the Lincoln Memorial. One thing he knew, he said, was that he could not fill Dr. King’s shoes. “He was discouraging us from comparing him to Dr. King,” said the Rev. Alvin Love of Chicago, one of the preachers who were there.

For Mr. Obama, Dr. King has been an idol, a role model and a burden since he assumed the presidency. He keeps a bust of the civil rights leader in the Oval Office along with a framed program from the 1963 march, and some of his favorite lines have been adopted from Dr. King. But as the nation’s first black president, Mr. Obama has found that no matter how much supporters may want to compare them, he cannot be a latter-day Dr. King…

…Outside events have also forced race back into the spotlight, and onto the Obama agenda. After the Supreme Court overturned part of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. went to court seeking to use other elements of the law to challenge a Texas statute. The Trayvon Martin case in Florida led Mr. Obama to make a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room to talk about the sting of being trailed in stores as a young black man

Read the entire article here.

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Asked to Declare His Race, Obama Checks ‘Black’

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-03-16 16:40Z by Steven

Asked to Declare His Race, Obama Checks ‘Black’

The New York Times
2010-04-02

Sam Roberts

Peter Baker

It is official: Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president.

A White House spokesman confirmed that Mr. Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked African-American on the 2010 census questionnaire…

…Mr. Obama could have checked white, checked both black and white, or checked the last category on the form, “some other race,” which he would then have been asked to identify in writing…

Read the entire article here.

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