Senator Obama Gives a Call to Action

16 Jun

Seth: For those who didn’t notice, Sunday, June 15th was Father’s Day and Barack Obama spent the morning at Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God. Senator Obama himself grew up without his father who left him at the age of 2, so he comes from a place where he can speak personally about what the lack of a father can do to an individual. Senator Obama addressed the congregation, and what I found interesting was how he insisted we place the blame on ourselves, on our missing fathers and crumbling families. He did highlight the difference between his fatherless experience and that of most African-American youths, acknowledging the many chances he received even after making many mistakes, and the fact that most of us don’t get second chances.

As I read his speech, all I could think was this man is really telling the truth!

Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more afterschool programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.

But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one.

And later…

You know, sometimes I’ll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there’s all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it’s just eighth grade. To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree too. An eighth-grade education doesn’t cut it today. Let’s give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!

What I also noticed was the difference between the prepared remarks I read, and the actual speech I did not hear. Some excerpts from the speech that were off the cuff:

“All B’s? Is that the highest grade?” It’s great that you can get a B, but you can get a better grade. It’s great that you’ve got a job, but you can get a better job…

“We can’t simply write these problems off to past injustices. Those injustices are real. There’s a reason our families are in disrepair … but we can’t keep using that as an excuse.”

This speech was a call to all families, and all fathers. This speech was his appeal to the conservative nature of most African-Americans, and also the larger electorate. He has stern words for those who are failing to live to their true potential, while stating that even he falls short at times. There’s no perfect candidate, but Senator Obama is better than anything we’ve seen in a long time. This speech had balanced amounts of admonishment and encouragement, and was exceedingly impressive. Check out the text for yourself, I am sure you’ll be impressed.

He also talked about some great policy ideas, including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for fathers who pay child support, better access to pre-natal care for mothers, and more maternity, paternity and sick leave for workers. Of course, the question is ‘how do we pay for these things?’

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