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  • Obama Sharply Assails Absent Black Fathers

    NYT

    June 16, 2008
    Obama Sharply Assails Absent Black Fathers

    By JULIE BOSMAN


    CHICAGO — Addressing a packed congregation at one of the city’s largest black churches, Senator Barack Obama on Sunday invoked his own absent father to deliver a sharp message to African-American men, saying, “We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception.”


    “Too many fathers are M.I.A, too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes,” Mr. Obama said, to a chorus of approving murmurs from the audience. “They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”


    The speech was striking for its setting, and in how Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, directly addressed one of the most sensitive topics in the African-American community: whether absent fathers bore responsibility for some of the intractable problems afflicting black Americans. Mr. Obama noted that “more than half of all black children live in single-parent households,” a number that he said had doubled since his own childhood.


    Accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, who sat in the front pew, Mr. Obama laid out his case in stark terms that would be difficult for a white candidate to make, telling the mostly black audience not to “just sit in the house watching SportsCenter,” and to stop praising themselves for mediocre accomplishments.


    “Don’t get carried away with that eighth-grade graduation,” he said, bringing many members of the congregation to their feet, applauding. “You’re supposed to graduate from eighth grade.”


    His themes have been also been sounded by the comedian Bill Cosby, who has stirred debate among black Americans by bluntly speaking about an epidemic of fatherless African-American families while suggesting that some blacks use racism as a crutch to explain lack of economic progress.
    Mr. Obama did not take his Father’s Day message to Trinity United Church of Christ, the church from which he resigned in May after a series of disputes over controversial remarks by the church’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Instead, he chose the 20,000-member Apostolic Church of God, a vast brick structure on the South Side near Lake Michigan. The church’s pastor, Byron Brazier, is an Obama supporter.


    On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama has frequently returned to the topic of parenting and personal responsibility, particularly for low-income African American families. Speaking in Texas in February, Mr. Obama told the mostly black audience to take responsibility for the education and nutrition of their children, and lectured them for feeding their children “cold Popeyes” for breakfast.


    “I know how hard it is to get kids to eat properly,” Mr. Obama said. “But I also know that folks are letting our children drink eight sodas a day, which some parents do, or, you know, eat a bag of potato chips for lunch. Buy a little desk or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework.”


    On Friday, Mr. Obama announced that he would be a co-sponsor of a bill with Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, that his campaign said would address the “national epidemic of absentee fathers.” If passed, the legislation would increase the enforcement of child support payments and strengthen domestic violence prevention services.


    Mr. Obama cited the need for stronger law enforcement services and resources for education, more job opportunities and other resources for communities.


    “But we also need families to raise our children,” he said. “We need fathers to realize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception. That doesn’t just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”


    Mr. Obama spoke of the burden that single parenthood was on his mother, who raised him with the help of his maternal grandparents.


    “I know the toll it took on me, not having a father in the house,” he continued. “The hole in your heart when you don’t have a male figure in the home who can guide you and lead you. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle — that that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my children.”


    But he also acknowledged his own flaws as a father, citing the breakneck schedule of the presidential campaign and the rare days he spends with his children.


    “I say this knowing that I have been an imperfect father,” he said, “Knowing that I have made mistakes and I’ll continue to make more, wishing that I could be home for my girls and my wife more than I am right now.”


    The Obama campaign added the speech to Mr. Obama’s schedule on Saturday, when he returned to Chicago after a campaign swing through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, took the day off from campaigning, but met privately in Washington with Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister.


    The church did not publicize Mr. Obama’s visit in advance, and carried no mention of it on the church Web site.


    But word had clearly gotten out, and by 11 a.m. Central time, as a musician warmed up on the timpani, thousands of people had filed through metal detectors at the church entrance and filled the pews, saving seats for latecomers with pocketbooks and hymnals. Even those who arrived an hour before the service began milled around the church searching for elusive empty seats.


    Mr. Obama sprinkled his roughly 30-minute address with some moments of levity. When he asked Mrs. Obama why Mother’s Day produces so much more “hoopla” than Father’s Day, he said, she reminded him of his special status.


    “She said, ‘Let me tell you, every day is Father’s Day,’ ” he said. “ ‘Every day you’re getting away with something. You’re running for president.’ ”

    "At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed."
    – Frederick Douglass, doing an amazing job since 1852

  • #2
    Kev's going to get wood over this.
    Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

    "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011

    Comment


    • #3
      Someone will have to let me know how Fox News, or whoever, spins this into a bad thing.
      "At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed."
      – Frederick Douglass, doing an amazing job since 1852

      Comment


      • #4
        Ain't nothing wrong with a little Cold Popeyes.

        Fox News will say he is sucking up to the white vote.

        Comment


        • #5
          His white half is obviously racist.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Reggie Cleveland View Post
            His white half is obviously racist.
            Send that in to FOX...betcha they use it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Right on brother!!!!
              Make America Great For Once.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bleacher Creature View Post
                Right on brother!!!!
                You know why black guys call each other brother, Kev?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Reggie Cleveland View Post
                  You know why black guys call each other brother, Kev?
                  More HB jokes being told at the local KKK meetings, huh?
                  Make America Great For Once.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Does this vindicate Cosby now?
                    Sponsor of Alex Pieterangelo.

                    ..."I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered." George Best

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by hkyfan View Post
                      Does this vindicate Cosby now?
                      I've always agreed with Cosby. It's my fair skinned jokers on here who've always tried to poke holes in his stance, although they have ZERO clue as to what they're talking about. Right kah?
                      Make America Great For Once.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        umm, actually, i think many other african americans took pot shots at cosby saying he didn't have a clue as to what he was talking about. it didn't start here.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MsFunkay View Post
                          umm, actually, i think many other african americans took pot shots at cosby saying he didn't have a clue as to what he was talking about. it didn't start here.
                          They were equally as stupid.

                          It wasn't "many", just the squeaky wheels. Those of us with more than half a brain and an IQ above zero recognize the real problem.
                          Make America Great For Once.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bleacher Creature View Post
                            They were equally as stupid.

                            It wasn't "many", just the squeaky wheels. Those of us with more than half a brain and an IQ above zero recognize the real problem.
                            they may have been equally stupid and it may not have been "many", but they're the ones who got into the press and eventually had his comments pushed to the side saying he didn't know what he was talking about.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bleacher Creature View Post
                              They were equally as stupid.

                              It wasn't "many", just the squeaky wheels. Those of us with more than half a brain and an IQ above zero recognize the real problem.
                              Yes, I believe you identified it as Oprah and Dr. Spock.
                              From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.

                              For more than 20 years I have endeavored-indeed, I have struggled-along with a majority of this Court, to develop procedural & substantive rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor.


                              I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.

                              The path the Court has chosen lessens us all. I dissent.

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