We just heard one of the most important racial speeches in United States history. There was no march, forewarning nor expectation for the statement. President Barack Obama in 20 minutes delivered on Martin Luther King's dream of social justice in action. He gave a voice to the voiceless, speaking for Trayvon Martin, Medgar Evers and many other nameless African-Americans in U.S. history. The President gave a voice to slaves that lost their live's running away in the deep south in the 1800's, people lynched for their views in the Jim Crow 1950's and men chained to long sentences for nonviolent offenses in prisons across the United States today.
We as a nation are built on, among other things, an institution of racism, and we have now heard our nation's first black president deliver to the nation the context of the pain that history caused. When Barack Obama said, "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," he essentially lifted the veil described by Booker T. Washington, and connected the presidential office to institutional struggle that happens from Chicago to Los Angeles to Seminole County. His speech is important for its content, but also because of the office of the messenger. He represents the dichotomy of American progress, in its full form. While African-Americans remain shackled socially and financially to the long history of racism, we as a nation elected a president that challenged the ethos that race was built upon. He represents the promise of American progress, a promise that only works if we commit to the work required to fulfill the promise. President Barack Obama's speech today is a moment in history that came without warning, but carries the weight of lifetimes of civil justice work.
"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago... There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me." - President Barack Obama
It includes me as well, Mr. President! Thank you for speaking for all of us.
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