There are many such as myself who were uncertain about supporting Barack Obama, given his limited experience in Congress, but as the months of campaigning have proceeded his eloquence and vision have captured out hearts. The speech he gave in Philadelphia yesterday will echo through the ages as among the most lucid and inspiring messages uttered by a person seeking higher office. He openly confronted charges that he has a connection to hatred and violence that was preached by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his pastor. Instead of taking the easy road and condemning the man, he condemned the ideas expressed by the man. Instead of trying to make Wright out to be an evil conveyor of hatred, Obama helped Americans understand what motivates a black man raised in poverty who endured bigotry and oppression. Here is what Seantor Obama said:
“I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some reason, 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 tis 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…..”
But, Obama also knew Reverend Wright as a person, someone who helped him gain an acceptance of Christianity and find peace of soul. “The man I met more than 20 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 pointed out that Reverend Wright served in the US Marines, has studied at leading seminaries and has led a church which has focused on the needs of poor people in the Chicago area.
“I can no more disown him that I can disown the black community… These people are part of me. And they are part of America, this country that I love.” Obama argues the issue of race has been distorted by the Reverend Wright just as millions of others distort it. I have been in education for 50 years and have sat in a room with a black professor who accused me of being prejudiced because my skin was white. Her view is similar to those of whites who see smeone with a dark skin and jump to conclusions instead of learning about the individual’s life story. Barack Obama speaks to anyone, black, white, pink, who has struggled to create a just and humane American society.
Many will not understand what Barack Obama said in Philadelphia, many will. Anyone who loves America knows of our twisted path leading to a society that confronts and conquers bigotry. I recall a sergeant in 1952 whose father had ridden with the KKK and now Sgt. Knox was chatting with some fellow Black sergeants in comradeship. I taught in a California community which had abused its Japanese American friends in 1942, and now an Asian girl and white boy held hands in love. I was among the first Jews to purchase a home in a St. Louis suburb and was so proud when a Catholic finally got elected president.
Unlike phony liberals who can recite chapter and verse about what is wrong with America, Barack Obama grasps the multifaceted complexity of our national struggle to confront what is wrong with this naton and make it right. His Philadelphia speech will resound through the ages. It is one that Hillary Clinton simply could not have made. That is why I will vote for Barack Obama for president.