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Obama on race:A visionary speech reminds this nation of its better self
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Barack Obama could have titled his speech in Philadelphia "Race in America." Instead, he called it "A More Perfect Union." That says everything.

Obama's call to transcend the divisive politics of race in order to build a more perfect union in the United States certainly must rank as one of the more profound speeches of this or any campaign season. But don't take our word for it. Read or view it yourself at http://www.barackobama.com.

His immediate goal was to deal with the political sniping over Geraldine Ferraro's remarks about how he wouldn't be where he is if he were not black, and the explosive, anti-American diatribes of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in past sermons that have appeared on YouTube.

Obama did not only that, but much more. He reminded the American people of their history, viewed through the lens of their Constitution, and how far we've come in dealing with race. Not that the current state of race relations is perfect. Far from it. But it is, in Obama's view, perfectible, if all Americans will face their anger and resentment honestly and vow to move forward together.

He believes this is what the people of this nation yearn to do. We agree.

He placed the controversial excerpts of sermons of Rev. Wright into a broader context, while roundly condemning them as expressing a profoundly distorted view of this country. But he also explained how Wright had introduced him to the Christian faith and "our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor."

To fail to understand the roots of black anger, however, "only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races." He is, of course, correct.

At the same time, his description and understanding of the anger that exists in segments of the working-class white community, people who have worked hard yet seen their jobs disappear overseas and their pensions dissolve, was nearly as empathetic.

His point that Americans of all colors must come together, based on the Golden Rule, to solve their common problems and not be distracted by the politics of racial division, is simple but right.

The genius of this nation, he says, is that it is not static. It is not perfect, but perfectible. The political genius of Obama is that he has the vision to remind us that this is true, and build his campaign on that foundation.

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