first female president


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The Zambian Chronicle is extremely excited that we have received an invitation for one of our staff to attend the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America.

 

“The Presidential Inaugural Committee requests the honor of your presence to attend and participate in the Inauguration of Barack H Obama as the President of the United States of America and Joseph R Biden, Jr. as Vice President of the United States of America on Tuesday, the twentieth of January two thousand and nine in the City of Washington”

 

The invitation reads …

inuagural-invite

This is history in making for us and we are excited for the invite but what is more significant is that Barack H Obama is a first generation American born of an African father from Kenya.

 

barackIn other words, he is the first real African blood to take over the helm of the world’s most powerful nation. He has surrounded himself with the best of the best and this will be a testimony to the rest of Africa that we too can lead well.

 

We know fully well how Black America would like to claim and hold on to Barack Obama, for surety they can but the rightful claim comes from Africa. Black America can take Michelle Obama, Barack H Obama is ours to claim, thanks a trillion.

 

Africa from here on has no excuse whatsoever at all. Barack H Obama, part African and part American takes over as one of the youngest Presidents in American history at inauguration. In fact only John F Kennedy beats that record in recent history.

 

For us at the Zambian Chronicle, it all started with the memo; America Votes’08 … Zambian Chronicle Endorses Senator Hillary R Clinton (NY) As The Next President of the United States …. We were all very convinced it was nobody but Hillary.

 

Then, all of a sudden, I got an email from Belliah after Super Tuesday. Mr. Brains, I think we missed the boat here. I am switching camp, I think Obama is the best candidate in this race, Belliah wrote.

 

Simon is solidly behind John McCain, she continued. And Lisa is not sure who she would like to back, she believes the whole world is going to hell and America is right there with it in a hand basket, I retorted.

 

We have a totally disjointed crew, with at least each candidate being supported by one of us, I said. Simon is usually behind the scenes. He is Zamchro’s Chief Legal Counsel (CLC); a board certified attorney and a very cool guy, he is. Tony was not a member of our team yet and so was not privy to the saga.

 

Then Simon followed in and wrote an article why he thought Obama would be the best President of the United States of America – this was a real twist especially that he had always been a republican supporter.

 

The tectonic shift continued with the following week Belliah saying, she wanted to recluse herself from being Managing Editor. She said that she wanted to be as free as possible and thought that she was head over hills over the momentum and thus her editing functions would be biased.

 

I mentioned that once we made the editorial decision to back Hillary we would not retract it. I accepted her decision and informed her that at the end of it all we would eventually support the final winner and continue to report as objectively as we had always done in the past – a multi-media enterprise, we are.

 

I appreciated Belliah’s honesty and that helped keep us stay focused on what our major objective was, to report news and facts as we saw them unfold besides we had made one booboo before and it was not time for another.

 

What was fascinating about the whole process was how, in divergence of views people can still coalesce around a common cause. It was a great learning experience especially that we first-handedly realized how easily all of us could become political junkies and love it …

 

Someone was watching, loyalty and objectivity finally paid off thus the invitation.  In it is written the following, “…The Presidential Inaugural Committee requests the honor of your presence to attend and participate in the Inauguration”. The honest truth is that we are the ones honored to be invited at the time history is in the making.

 

Barack H Obama achieved what many have attempted and failed, we have said it before here and we will recount a thousand times. He made it look like getting the US Presidency was the easiest thing one could do in his life.

 

We wish the new President of the greatest nation on the face of the earth, God Speed. We wish him well; him and his family. And for the rest of us on the African continent, its Showtime …

 

Africa is in charge by proxy and can’t afford to lag behind. We urge all African Presidents on the continent to emulate Barack H Obama and make us all proud.

 

Zambian Chronicle and its team wish to congratulate President-Elect Barack H Obama for becoming the 44th President of the United States of America.

 

Long Live Africa, Long Live Zambia and God bless us all. Live Long & Prosper; that’s this week’s memo from us at the Zambian Chronicle … thanks a trillion.

 

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO  & President – Zambian Chronicle 

 

Copyrights © 2009 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom. 

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton will be symbolically put forward as a presidential candidate at the Democratic convention later this month even though she narrowly lost the nominating battle to Barack Obama, the two campaigns said on Thursday. 

Obama encouraged Clinton’s name to be placed in nomination as a show of unity, the campaigns said in a joint statement that noted the two senators “are looking forward to a convention unified behind Barack Obama as the party’s nominee.” 

Clinton, a former first lady who would have been the first female nominee of a major party, narrowly lost the nominating battle to Obama in a drawn-out campaign that ended in June, months after John McCain wrapped up the right to represent the Republican party in the November election. 

Clinton later endorsed Obama, the Illinois senator who would be the first black U.S. president, and urged her supporters to line up behind him. 

But the hard-fought campaign left many of Clinton’s supporters bitter and wanting some recognition of the New York senator at the party convention in Denver beginning on August 25 since her chances of being picked as the vice presidential candidate have faded. 

Clinton is scheduled to speak on the second night of the convention, August 26, two nights before Obama accepts the nomination. 

“I am convinced that honoring Senator Clinton’s historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together in a strong, unified fashion,” Obama said in a prepared statement. 

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan, editing by David Wiessler)  

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WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Clinton made nearly $109 million since they left the White House, capitalizing on the world’s interest in the former first couple and lucrative business ventures.

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The Clintons reported $20.4 million in income for 2007 as they gave the public the most detailed look at their finances in eight years. Almost half the former first couple’s money came from Bill Clinton‘s speeches.

“I have absolutely nothing against rich people,” Hillary Clinton told North Dakota Democrats at their party convention Friday night in Grand Forks. “As a matter of fact, my husband — much to my surprise and his — has made a lot of money since he left the White House doing what he loves doing most, talking to people.”

The tax returns are a portrait in post-presidential success. The Clintons, who had lived in taxpayer-paid housing in the governor’s mansion in Arkansas or the White House for years, left the presidency struggling with a legal defense fund stemming from a spate of investigations. They now are wealthy enough that she could lend her presidential campaign $5 million earlier this year.

The campaign released tax returns from 2000 through 2006 and gave highlights from their 2007 return. The Clintons have asked for an extension for filing their 2007 tax returns, citing the dissolution of a blind trust last year.

The Democratic presidential candidate and her husband paid $33.8 million in taxes from 2000 through 2007. They listed $10.25 million in charitable contributions during that period.

Clinton has been under pressure to release her tax returns, especially from rival Sen. Barack Obama, who posted his 2000 to 2006 returns on his campaign Web site last week. Neither Obama nor Republican Sen. John McCain has made their 2007 tax returns public, though both say they will this month.

The Clintons last made their returns public in 2000 when they reported an adjusted gross income of $416,039 for 1999. Since then, the former president has embarked on a number of business ventures and has made millions from speaking engagements and books.

In the tax returns, the former president describes his occupation as “Speaking & Writing.”

Beside speeches and books, his biggest single business income is from his partnership with Yucaipa Global Opportunities Fund, a Los Angeles-based investment firm founded by longtime Clinton fundraiser Ron Burkle. Between 2003 and 2006, the returns show total Yucaipa partnership income of $12.5 million. The 2007 summary provided by the campaign lists $2.75 million in partnership income.

President Clinton also has been an adviser to InfoUSA, a data company whose chief executive, Vinod Gupta, has been a major donor to Democrats and gave at least $1 million to Bill Clinton‘s presidential library in Arkansas. Clinton received $400,000 in payments from the company in 2006 and 2007, according to the documents.

According to a summary of the seven years provided by the campaign, the former president’s speech income since he left the White House totals $51.85 million and his income from his two books — “My Life ” and “Giving” — totals $29.6 million, including a $15 million advance for “My Life.” Bill Clinton has traveled the world, giving paid speeches to multinational corporations, investment banks and motivational groups.

Details of the former president’s speaking fees were included in Sen. Clinton‘s financial disclosure report last year. In 2006 and 2007, he earned fees from $100,000 to $450,000 speaking to such corporations as IBM, General Motors, and Cisco Systems, finance giants such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, and trade groups such as the National Association of Realtors and the Mortgage Bankers Association. He also has been paid to speak to nonprofit or charity groups, including the TJ Martell Foundation, which finances leukemia research, Nelson Mandela‘s Children’s Fund and, last March, to the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles.

The campaign has said Clinton typically donates millions of dollars worth of free speeches to charities

Hillary Clinton had $10.5 million in book income over the period from her book “Living History.” She donated earnings from her other book, “It Takes a Village,” to charity.

Clinton’s tax returns show that of the remaining presidential candidates, she is the one most able to access large amounts of personal money. She lent her campaign $5 million in late February and could contribute more if she finds herself falling far behind Obama’s proficient fundraising.

McCain’s wife, Cindy, is heiress to her father’s stake in Hensley & Co. of Phoenix, one of the largest beer distributorships in the country and her worth could exceed $100 million. But the couple has a prenuptial agreement that has kept most assets in her name. In his financial disclosures, McCain lists his major sources of income as his Senate salary of $169,300 and a Navy pension of about $56,000.

In 2006, Obama reported income of nearly $1 million, with nearly half of it coming from the publication of his second book, “The Audacity of Hope.” Last week, the campaign disclosed that Obama and his wife, Michelle, gave $240,000 to charity last year.

The tax return shows a rite of passage for the Clintons: 2002 was the last year they claimed daughter Chelsea, now 28, as a dependent.

The returns also reference interest free loans to unidentified “family members.” Based on the “imputed interest” listed in the 2006 return — that is interest that would have been paid — the loans likely total more than $300,000.

“The loans to family members are personal; the Clintons are going to respect their family members’ privacy,” Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said.

___

Associated Press writers Nancy Benac, Charles Babington, Nedra Pickler and Pete Yost in Washington and Beth Fouhy in Grand Forks, N.D., contributed to this article.

 

 

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hill.jpgWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has moved into a significant lead over Barack Obama among Democratic voters, according to a new Gallup poll.

The March 14-18 national survey of 1,209 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters gave Clinton, a New York senator, a 49 percent to 42 percent edge over Obama, an Illinois senator. The poll has an error margin of 3 percentage points.

The poll was a snapshot of current popular feeling, but Clinton trails Obama in the state-by-state contest which began in January to select a nominee to face presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in the November election to succeed President George W. Bush.

The nominees are formally chosen by delegates at the parties’ conventions in the summer.

Gallup said the poll lead was the first statistically significant one for Clinton since a tracking poll conducted February 7-9, just after the Super Tuesday primaries. The two candidates had largely been locked in a statistical tie since then, with Obama last holding a lead over Clinton in a March 11-13 poll.

Gallup said polling data also showed McCain leading Obama 47 percent to 43 percent in 4,367 registered voters’ preferences for the general election. The general election survey has an error margin of 2 percentage points.

The Arizona senator also edged Clinton 48 percent to 45 percent but Gallup said the lead was not statistically significant.

(Reporting by David Morgan, editing by Vicki Allen)

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By Belliah K Theise

Response to Shelby Steele Opinion : Marking Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and  Tiger Woods as “bargainers” a huge mistake.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01112008/watch2.html

Here is what  conservative republicans have to say:

The irony inherent in Mr. Steele’s remarks is that he himself is arguably the best example of a “bargainer” one could find in American society.  He is a self-styled “black conservative.”  He uses his race to set himself apart from other conservative writers because his race makes him stand out.  I have read most of what he has written over the years.  It is nothing terribly unique or cutting edge.  In fact, if a white conservative writer offered the same analysis, he would likely never be published simply because Mr. Steele states little more than the obvious.  But Mr. Steele is America’s bargainer-in-chief and has consistently used his race as a means of acheiving success beyond his plebian talents.  Steele’s bargaining mask is the conservative agenda he pushes, an agenda that leads whites to pat him on the back and show him off as an example of what a “good negro” should be.

Mr. Steele’s analysis of Barack Obama is intellectually dishonest at its core because he remains trapped in his generation’s limited conception of how a black man in America is to be defined.  To Steele, there is no difference between Obama and Al Sharpton because, rather than attempt to nuance the ever-evolving nature of black manhood, he is content to deal in extreme caricatures thereof — the black liberal radical and the Uncle Tom.  His inability to grasp the reality that in 2008 a black American can rise to prominence based on his own merits is best illustrated by invoking the names of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Oprah Winfrey.  The common thread between these objectively remarkable people is that they are the best at what they do — nothing more, nothing less.  Excellence does not have a color. It justifies its own success on its own merits.  Sadly, it appears that Mr. Steele would be more comfortable with Mr. Obama if he went out and robbed a bank at gunpoint with a group of gang bangers.

Barack Obama is, without question, the most intelligent of all the presidential candidates.  He not only graduated from Harvard Law School, but acheived the highest honor possible by being named Editor of the Harvard Law Review.  He was also a successful attorney and devoted community organizer, offering countless hours of personal service to advance his Christian commitment to be his brother’s keeper.  And, yes, he is also a gifted speaker and politician. If there is any psychological theory at play here, it is Mr. Steele’s rather distasteful inability to acknowledge the fact that another black man has far superceded his own accomplishments.  This psychological phenomenon is most commonly referred to as jealousy.

The Obama’s of the world threaten every assumption upon which Mr. Steele has based his career. This is why he is forced by a toxic combination of ego, self-loathing and ignorance to dismiss Barack Obama as a “bargainer” rather than what he really is — a bridge to the kind of desperately needed racial reconciliation that would render Mr. Steel’s particular brand of race-baiting tripe obsolete.

By a white conservative Christian Republican married to an amazing African woman.

———————————————–

Conservative columnist George Will penned an op-ed disagreeing with Steele for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:

Steele has brilliantly dissected the intellectual perversities that present blacks as dependent victims, reduced to trading on their moral blackmail of whites who are eager to be blackmailed in exchange for absolution. But Steele radically misreads Obama, missing his emancipation from those perversities. Obama seems to understand America’s race fatigue, the unbearable boredom occasioned by today’s stale politics generally and by the perfunctory theatrics of race especially.

Copyrights © 2008 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

Copyrights © 2008 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc.

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OBAMA SPEECH IN FULL: A MORE PERFECT UNION
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008/ 10:17:53 ET
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

 Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty 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.

Legalized discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, 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 rather 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.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs – to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Barack Obama is a Democratic Senator from Illinois and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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