At lunchtime today at work, I thought I would skim the transcript of the prepared text of this speech on the New York Times website . I couldn't skim it. I couldn't skip a word.
But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice ... we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
-- Barack Obama, Philadelphia, 18 March 2008
If you can't see the video up above, please read the transcript, in which the words lose none of their power. I hesitate to lift any lines out of context, because it really is a finely woven speech in which every paragraph depends on all the others to complete the argument, but I can't resist:
I can no more disown him [Reverend Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
or, after a very honest and very insightful dissection of the roots of black anger and white anger and resentments, he adds:
But please read the whole thing. I haven't read any commentaries or listened to any reviews yet. I'm sure that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and hundreds of bloggers are already ranting while I'm raving about these words. I just want to let these words seep in unfiltered by the commentariat and the punditocracy who may see this speech as less Lincolnesque than I do.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
It's perfect, and I don't think that's just my opinion.