Barack Obama, in a speech made partly to defend himself against criticism levied against his former pastor, "had to address race and religion, the two most toxic subjects in politics" (New York Times Editorial).
But he did not stop there. He put Mr. Wright, his beliefs and the reaction to them into the larger context of race relations with an honesty seldom heard in public life.As he spoke in Philadelphia, he reached all the way back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and wove a narrative of racial struggle through our entire history up to and including the present day.
Whether or not you support Obama for president, consider reading his speech, a document some are comparing to the oratory of a Lincoln, FDR, or Kennedy. Read it for its thematic elements, for how it addresses the other side, and for how it expresses empathy for all citizens. Does it not demonstrate what we all strive for as students of American Studies?
For an interactive video/text version, please click HERE.