With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Recalling Obama's historic speech on race

It's Sunday morning and I am out by the beach in Lakeside getting in a much needed weekend of R & R before summer session teaching begins on Monday. I find myself listening to a rebroadcast, on my favorite public radio station (WMNF, Tampa), of Barack Obama's March 18, 2008 speech on race, "A More Pefect Union"--the one he made in response to Rev. Wright's widely publicized comments earlier that month. It will be remembered as one of the greatest ever and well worth another listen. His comments on education and the so-called "achievement gap" warrants special attention:
Segregated schools were and are inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education. And the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students... ...This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late '50s and early '60s, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way, for those like me who would come after them.

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