Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sen. Obama gave a truly magnificent speech today

Sen. Obama gave a truly magnificent speech today -- see below.  You will not regret taking the time to read it.
Here were the highlights for me:

But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It's not easy to stand in somebody else's shoes. It's not easy to see past our differences. We've all encountered this in our own lives.

But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.

And this:

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

And, finally, this poignant story literally brought tears to my eyes.  It is so very wrong that we are alone among developed countries in failing to provide basic health care for all of our citizens:

The stories that give me such hope don't happen in the spotlight.

They don't happen on the presidential stage. They happen in the quiet corners of our lives. They happen in the moments we least expect.

Let me give you an example of one of those stories.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She's been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other 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.

So 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."


Obama Addresses Ebenezer Baptist Church

Embargoed Remarks Provided Below

Atlanta, GA Senator Barack Obama deliverd the following speech today at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

As Prepared for Delivery:

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama

The Great Need of the Hour

Ebenezer Baptist Church

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Atlanta, Georgia

The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho, they could not enter. The walls of the city were too steep for any one person to climb; too strong to be taken down with brute force. And so they sat for days, unable to pass on through...


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