Obama Deals With Race Issue

I wouldn’t go so far overboard as Chris Matthews and declare it a speech worthy of Abraham Lincoln. But I was most impressed with Barack Obama’s powerful and important speech on race.

He reminded us how deep racial wounds still exist in this country — and how both whites and blacks must make an effort to better understand each other before we can put racism behind us.

He condemned the racist, divisive statements of his former pastor — and admitted he hadn’t quite told the truth when he denied, earlier, having been present for any of them. And he set forth, again, the goal of uniting this nation in common purpose — a goal that he, perhaps more than anyone else, could achieve.

Obama’s speech was near-perfect. Where I think he fell short was appearing to write off the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s hate speech as just something you expect to hear on Sunday mornings in black churches across America. That, I believe, is an insult to one of the most solid pillars of American Christianity.

And that’s certainly not what I discovered in my own spiritual journey. At Glide Methodist Church in San Francisco, and at First AME Church in Los Angeles, I never heard anybody say, “God damn America” from the pulpit. If I had, I would have walked out — as Barack Obama should have done a long time ago.


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