March 18, 2008

What Did You Think About Obama's Speech

Villagers, did you listen to the speech? If not, did you read the transcripts of the speech given today by Barack Obama?

I listened to it and was struck by three things.

  1. Pastor Wright - He addressed in a honest and candid manner this situation. He denounced the outlandish snippets of sermons that have offended many Americans of all colors. At the same time Obama clearly shared the reasons that he won't disown Pastor Wright. I thought he effectively shared the complex world we live where many of us say things privately or in a barbershop that we wouldn't say in polite company. However, even when our parents, grandparents or pastor say things that make us cringe ... we can't disown them.

  2. Race Relations in America - He gave a point-by-point history of race relations in our country. He challenged us to work towards solving big problems together ... in unity ... rather than continue to be played against each other based on our fears, our anger, our frustrations or our resentments. He talked to us from the perspective of Blacks in America, whites in America and immigrants in America. He gave us the opportunity to rise above our fears and our divisions to create 'a more perfect union'.

  3. Obama Campaign - He laid it on the line for us in both the Democratic nomination process (vs. Hillary Clinton) and the general campaign (vs. John McCain). He gave us a choice of reacting to this moment in time with the same ol'-same ol' ... letting race-baiting and fears cause us to go back in our corners and react in the same, predictable manner * OR * consider the hope and promise of an Obama presidency and what it could mean for creating a new paradigm for race relations and for solving the big problems of health care, economy, jobs and the war. Do we want more of the same? Or do we have the audacity of hope for a new country and a new politics in the 21st century?

This is my initial take on the speech. You can find other analysis here, here, here and here. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share your village voice. Respond to comments that you see and give voice to your thoughts. What say u?

39 comments:

Janet Shan said...

I heard 90 percent of his speech and I think it was quite good. It is a sad commentary that we are still faced with many polarizing issues stemming from race. I liked his point of Geraldine Ferraro's comments and that, essentially, Hillary Clinton was blamed for it, when she may not have had knowledge of the intention of Ferraro to make those statements. I suspect that many will still be upset with him for not disowning Rev. Wright and it may very well play out in the polls. But what it will show us is that America still has a long way to go. While I understand how Wright must feel, we cannot keep picking at old sores. We have to move on and empower ourselves to do better and not let the past hold us captive. I think that was essentially what Obama was saying. This was a necessary speech, but in my mind, I understand his position and I accept it, but in the minds of many, I don't know if it will change minds. I felt all along that it was ridiculous on his part to say that he never heard controversial comments, but I am glad he admitted that today. We'll see what happens and must be prepared for all eventualities.

Black Women in Europe said...

I saw it live in Sweden so I am guessing that Obama's Speech on Race was shown around the world.

I think the right and Clinton camps are kicking themselves for providing this highly visible platform for Obama so talk about race in a way that no other Presidential candidate ever has.

My father taped the speech and I wager to say it was the most important speech of Obama's career and the entire Presidential race to date.

Talk about playing the cards you are dealt, and winning!

Adrianne

Villager said...

Janet and Adrianne - Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on the speech. I thought it was remarkable and gives us a unique opportunity to discuss race in a much different way moving forward. I'm curious to learn how the white or Latino community felt about the speech...

Garlin II said...

I've wanted a speech like this to come for some time. I think he handled things responsibly, and I hope that this is a sign of things to come. I believe that the flaw in the campaign to this point was an attempt to be post-racial as opposed to dealing with race head-on. I pray that this speech is the official end of that strategy.

More of my thoughts are at The SuperSpade.

Villager said...

Garlin - Thank you for sharing your village voice. I hadn't been waiting on the speech ... but, I'm very glad that he gave it. I wonder how McCain and Hillary Clinton would handle candid discussion on race?

Anonymous said...

I would have preferred a question and answer session to a speech. Sincerely. I felt that he was trying to manipulate me too much, especially with the touching story about Ashley as well as recalling The Constitution which Lincoln did in his most famous speech. Speeches are prepared, not spontaneous and I am not swerved anymore by speeches. The fact is that Obama's message of hope and change is tarnished when his pastor, mentor and ADVISOR spreads hate, bigotry and separatism. And did he have to use the word "nagging" questions. Nag?

Maria del Pilar

SheCodes said...

I thought that it was an excellent speech, and opened a long overdue dialogue in American politics.

Although I didn't agree with everything he said, I heard enough to move from a very critical supporter to someone who is comfortable with supporting Barack Obama.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

unnecessry its old news

Truthiz said...

IMO Obama's speech was well-delivered, on point and on time!

I agree with those who've expressed that it's a sad commentary that We're still having to deal with "polarizing issues stemming from race" in America. But that is the reality of our situation.

Truthiz, Obama's message of "HOPE" and "CHANGE" threatens the conceptual worldview of some folks (Black and White) who don't want Us to move beyond OLD hatreds, OLD prejudices, or OLD divisions.

However, my gut feeling is that many Americans are FED-UP with being PLAYED by the "elites" and "hatemongers" _and watching Obama give his speech today, I have to say that I now believe he IS the man to help heal this nation and champion the beginning of REAL change in moving this country forward.

Regardless of what happens with the nomination, I witnessed a man lay it on the line today and speak Truth-to-Power_ and that makes him more than just a politician to me!

Shelia said...

I think that Obama's speech was the speech that great men give. And the speech that lesser Black and White men and women are afraid to give for fear of what people will "think" of them of what office they may not win.

Obama is a man of courage and dignity and I am so proud of every word that he spoke today. I feel like even Obama grew a little more in that moment.

I don't know that I've heard anyone reach out to embrace and move America forward in this way in my lifetime.

MsMarvalus said...

It takes a man of courage to stop running away from those things that keep dogging you and face them head on...

My President, Barack Obama, has done just that by giving this speech today...I have not seen the video, but I have read the speech and I am proud—proud that Obama represents America: Black, white, young, old...he is multi-dimensional, multi-faceted and wants to work for the betterment of all...that is what I want from my President...

Villager said...

Maria - I appreciate your perspective on the speech earlier today. I didn't think that he was manipulating or pandering. I think that he was truly trying to speak with us in his own words and from his own heart. He looked very presidential to me tonight. He was cool, collected and very reasonable in tone and temperment...

Shecodes - Out of curiousity, what areas of the speech were you in disagreement?

Terrance - old news? How so? I've never seen a presidential candidate have these types of discussions with the American people before. Isn't that new?

Truthiz - I appreciate your feedback. He spoke truth-to-power as you say ... but, I wonder if he reached into the hearts and minds of Latinos? of lower-income or middle-income whites? Do you think so?

Shelia - I understand he is making two more presidential-in-tone speeches over the next two days. One will be on the economy and the other will be on foriegn policy. This brother is trying to use his greatest talents and skills to regain the offensive in this campaign. It will be interesting to see if he can pull it off. He made Bush, McCain and Team Clinton seem so yesterday...

Ms. Marvalus - He dayum-sure looked presidential. He made all Americans of goodwill proud today. Adrianne tells me that his speech was carried live in Sweden. I wonder if it was carried live in other countries as well? I really wonder what the Hispanic community thought of the speech?

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

I heard much of the speech online here in Brazil, and I can't remember anything worth disagreeing about. He was right on.

For contrast, I can remember the days when ALL presidential candidates were white men, and we Blacks would sit on the edge of our seats to see if the word "Black" would be said even ONCE during a presidential candidate's speech. To have an entire speech dedicated to the matter is in itself an historic moment that demonstrates the arrival of some of the "change" of which Obama has been speaking.

Obama's speech was real. He said things to white people that have never been said to as large an audience before. Can you remember the last time that all of America, Republican and Democrat, stopped to listen to what a Black man had to say?

By putting Pastor Wright into a larger context, Obama showed that this is AMERICA'S moment to show that it can overcome its history, rather than just Obama's moment to show that he can overcome an embarrassment involving his pastor.

So, Obama did himself and the nation a great service today.

Thanks for providing this forum in which to share this opinion with my AfroSpear and afrosphere friends and all of your readers!

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

And if you all are as sick and tired as I am of Billary & Co. trying to use Obama's (and our) skin color against Obama, then please take a moment to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT right now. Please everyone sign the "Concede Now, Hillary!" online petition, sponsored by the Afrosphere Action Committee.

Let's take some action together!

Villager said...

Francis - You ask an interesting question -- 'when was the last time that all of American and most of the world listened at one time to a Blackman talk on an issue that was non-sports or non-entertainment related'?

I imagine that it was back in the early 1960s when MLK gave his 'I Have A Dream' speech and I don't think it had worldwide distribution on the same day as the event.

Actually, there were probably quite a few eyeballs on Min. Louis Farrakhan when he gave speech in Oct 1998 at the Million Man March.

The difference is that Obama gave a speech that was presidential in scope...

DP said...

Obama hit it out of the park. That speech will go down in history and
has the potential to really get this "conversation on Race" that we've been promised for years kick started in a productive manner. I am very proud of Obama for addressing this issue head on and not sugarcoating it for anyone. The Clinton's will rue the day they interjected race into this campaign. And the framing that Obama laid out is going to make it a lot tougher for the Republicans to come with their usual race-baiting campaign. Not at our expense anyway.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Hotep, Villager !

I think it's the best speech we've heard in, what, about 20 years?

See link....and for some context, my home church has had some ministerial difficulties.

http://thewhitedsepulchre.blogspot.com/2008/03/barack-obama-reverend-jeremiah-wright.html

Shazza Nakim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shazza Nakim said...

I don't think it was or is as GREAT as Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have A Dream” speech nor do I think it is the single most defining moment of his career. Obama's 2004 Speech at the Democratic National Convention still hails as his most Deeply Rooted Speech about America. With that said, I thought his speech, for me, was "conversational". The issues he spoke about were more of an "I Know This Already" and yet for WHITES it was an EYE OPENER or at least that is how it was reported. I just don't get it because what Obama detailed is so "obvious" and "common" knowledge.

I felt I was being lectured to, no in the sense of Obama’s delivery but in the tone and tenor of his presentation. I also felt that what Obama spoke about, many prominent Black and White intellectuals have spoken upon with more flair, substance and purpose but then again, we are talking about Obama running for President. If the FLAGS and the State of the Union setting wasn't framing Obama, I might have connected better, or even if the speech was set in a Convention Center or Stadium I could have been swept up in the message BUT this was political and part of a series of more speeches to come to influence Pennsylvania Voters. This is why it will never be the same caliber as a King speech.

There is an old saying, “Sometime God speaks through people like Angels”. Maybe this is Obama’s Angel moment.

Talking to my Political Analyst friends we came to the following conclusions:

1. For some it will be a talking point for the next few days

2. For others, it was like a University Lecture on Race in America

3. Some will pick the speech apart and become over analyze to be used against Obama later

4. Those that support Obama will fall into the glow of his words and presence

5. The Clintons will stay away from anything that might taint Obama's views on America's Social behavior thus giving him the edge to reach those Central Pa. voters who wouldn’t consider voting for him

boo said...

Right On "Shelia"

Hands down I loved the speech.

I can't believe that some will look for a bent gold coin even when they have a pot of gold, but in my heart and mind I know that Obama nor anyone else will make these haters happy, but change is often frighting for some.

Obama is brilliant! this man gave a 37 min speech without notes, without cards, and without stuttering.

He hit on so many key elements that I couldn't even begin to post them all.

I can't see how Team Clinton will be able to show face after all the race bating they have done, but we all know they will, but you can't compare real gold to fools gold, it may fool some but I know the difference in the shine.

Shazza Nakim said...

Ahhhhh, He had a Tele-Prompter

He didn't just wing it, he wrote the speech and had it displayed just like your news personnel on a display screen.

Villager said...

Shazza - Thank you for sharing your insights. I thought it was a good idea on his part to tone down his large stadium tone and make this more of a discussion about race relations with the audience. He brought light to the issue instead of just heat to it. I think he had a great opportunity to connect with the audience of lower- and middle-class white people and hopefully with Hispanics as well. Time will tell if he did.

One thing is for sure ... he gave impression that was very much presidential...

Boo - I agree with you that he moved his campaign against Team Clinton forward in a large manner...

White Sepulchre - I will head over to see your post. Thank you for sharing your insights. Out of curiousity, what was the speech 20 years ago that you referred to in your comment?

DP - I agree with you wholeheartedly...

Gunfighter said...

I thought the speech was brilliant.

IT was timely, it was thorough, and it was delivered in a very genuine manner.

Big points to Obama for disavowing the remarks and political opinions of Reverend Wright, while not throwing the man under the bus.

Additional big points for having the courage to NOT pretend that race doesn't matter in this country.

Lastly, big points for speaking rationally on this subject, addressing concerns not only of many black Americans, but those of many white Americans as well.

Obama was mature, professional, and never shrill.

A winner of a speech.

Truthiz said...

My phone is still ringing off the hook_friends and family members expressing such admiration for Obama's speech and the "Leadership" qualities, Barack, the man, displayed yesterday!

I can honestly say that for quite some time I was NOT convinced that Barack was "ready" to be President. But I certainly believe that he is more than ready NOW!

Villager said...

Gunfighter - I agree. He was calm, cool and collected. And in the long run ... isn't that the type of person we want answering that dayum 3am phone call about a foriegn crisis? I think that Obama did himself a world of good for the reasons you gave. I'm still wondering how Hispanic and white citizens came away from his speech?

Truthiz - Hopefully, you represent the views of many others who may have been wavering. Obama continues to show maturity and judgement that is worthy of the POTUS job. Have you read his first book, Dreams of My Father? I highly recommend it. I decided to vote for him after reading that book...

Truthiz said...

Villager asked:

"I'm still wondering how Hispanic and white citizens came away from his speech?"

My apologies Villager! You posed this question to me yesterday and I failed to respond.

My short answer is_ only Time will tell.

I'd like to think that SOME Latinos and SOME low-income/blue collar white folks, who truly recognize that this country is on one H*LL of a mess and in dire of need of a Uniquely different kind of "Leader" to address a multitude of critical issues We now find ourselves confronted with__were indeed touched by Barack's speech and PERHAPS will at least be willing to give the man a second look?!

But like I said before_only Time will tell!

Anonymous said...

Wayne, first, I have witnessed the tremendous rise of influence you are leading on the net and my hat goes off to you. The speech, heart felt and great delivery, no filler words, no, you knows, uhs or studders, I spokeman of our time. I agree with your views plus, his explanation of white resentment, along with highlighting his Grandmother vantage point, gave white folk something to gain from and identify with

JD said...

Wayne, my comment showed as anonymous,comment 27 is from me

Fredric said...

At YBP Guide, we had a nice response from a long-time reader. Check it out.

http://ybpguide.com/2008/03/19/now-what-the-aftermath-of-the-obama-speech/

MrsGrapevine said...

I like the speech because it presented him in a Presidential manner, the stage was set and it felt like the President of the US addressing the country.

Speech does matter. If Bush was able to articulate himself in the manner of Clinton or Obama, then he probably would have higher approval rating despite his missteps.

If Speech didn't matter, Clinton wouldn't have survive the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

If speech didn't matter, Hillary and McCain wouldn't be attacking the oracle gifts of Obama.

Villager said...

Mrs. Grapevine - I agree that it is a powerful gift that Obama has ... his ability to give a great speech in a variety of settings. I just hope that this whole Rev. Wright situation hasn't made it impossible for him to win the election in November. There are a number of polls showing sharp drops in his numbers with independants and such...

Frederic - I will head over your blog to read the reactions...

Anon/Jim - I thought it was remarkable about

Villager said...

Truthiz - re: Hispanic reaction to Obama's race relations speech ---> I haven't seen much in media as of yet. I haven't visited Latino blogs to see for myself. I'll probably do a little of that today...

Rich said...

I ranked his speech alongside JFKs famous "Ask not what your country can do for you" speech which I heard, because I'm old enough to have been alive during his presidency.

What's amazing to me is the denial by the right concerning the eloquence and "point on"nes of this speech.

How sad is it that our political culture is so "Spin" oriented that this man's potential for greatness and his obvious ability as a serious thinker is being obscured by the trivial and irrelevant assaults of the mindless "dittoheads"

My response to the speech is here:
http://onemansop.blogspot.com/2008/03/mr-obama-goes-to-washington.html

it ain't real purty, but it's purty real.

Rich

Villager said...

Rich - Powerful comments on your blog about the speech that Obama gave earlier this week on race relations. Do you think that he will be able to overcome the damage done by Rev. Wright published snippets?

Garlin II said...

For those that haven't seen it, a video was put out by a McCain staffer that was taking the racial attacks to the next level.

Villager said...

Garlin - Thanx for the tip on the new video from the McCain staffer. Is this the staffer that was disciplined recently by the McCain campaign? I haven't seen the video ... I'll keep my eyes open for it...

Do you think that Obama's campaign has been fatally wounded by the Rev. Wright controversy?

Garlin II said...

Yes, this is the video that caused that staffer to be fired.

I think that this is a wound, but it doesn't have to be a fatal one. This whole thing is an issue because of how Obama chose to handle the race issue up until this point. I believe that now he needs to integrate that more strongly into his "hope" rhetoric, and tie this to his other messages calling for fundamental political changes. If he can successfully do that, he'll win.

Villager said...

Garlin - Thank you for your insights. I hope you have reason to visit with us again in the future...

jjbrock said...

Villager I love the speech I thought he did an awesome job. He did it from the heart and you could feel it.