Friday, July 17, 2009

Obama: ‘No Excuses’ for Any Failure

President Obama addressed the N.A.A.C.P. convention on the organization's 100th anniversary in New York on Thursday.

Obama Tells Fellow Blacks: ‘No Excuses’ for Any Failure - I don't know that I would say 'fellow blacks.' But it was a rousing speech; he almost preached several times, leaning down into the microphones. It was inspiring to see him, even if he could not resist detailing policy.

President Obama delivered a fiery sermon to black America on Thursday night, warning black parents that they must accept their own responsibilities by “putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour,” and telling black children that growing up poor is no reason to get bad grades.

Fiery sermon it was.

“No one has written your destiny for you,” he said, directing his remarks to “all the other Barack Obamas out there” who might one day grow up to be president. “Your destiny is in your hands, and don’t you forget that. That’s what we have to teach all of our children! No excuses! No excuses!”

He was one part politician and one part black preacher as he spoke in lilting cadences, his voice quiet at times, thundering at others, in unusually personal terms. At one point, when his audience shouted back at him, repeating his words, he threw back his head and laughed, saying, “I’ve got an amen corner back there.”

It was an unusual moment for a president who has sought to transcend race and has only reluctantly embraced his unique place in history. Six months into his presidency, Mr. Obama has seemed more comfortable embracing his identity as the first black American president overseas than at home, as was the case during his trip to Ghana last week, when he declared, “I have the blood of Africa within me.”

He did, several times, say United States of America, and it was clear he was trying to reconcile both the black audience and the nation: being black is not unAmerican, and being patriotic is not uncool.

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