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Riveted:The Barack Obama Acceptance Speech Special Edition - August 30, 2008 By Bill Fletcher, Jr., Executive Editor - View, Listen or Read complete speech

(Note: Links to text, audio and video of speech are at the end of this commentary)

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The evening of August 28th, 2008 I put aside my reservations and criticisms of Senator Obama. In fact, i refused to do an interview with a media outlet because i did not wish to critique Obama's speech. I wanted to sit there and take it in; i wanted to sit there with my wife and feel the currents of history.

During Senator Obama's speech, CNN posted the fact that in 1888, 120 years ago, Frederick Douglas received one vote in the Republican Party Convention when his name was put in for nomination for President of the United States. So, here we are in 2008 and a Black man has finally, and quite proudly, secured the nomination for President of the United States of America.

I am a critical supporter of Senator Obama, but this one particular evening i did not wish to focus on the criticism. I wanted to think about the significance of a Black person leading one of the two main parties into battle for the presidency. I wanted to think, more importantly, about the way in which this candidacy materializes the racial dialogue that this country consistently seeks to avoid.

So, for those of us of African descent, this was a highly emotional evening. An evening that most of us probably never thought that we would ever live to see. An evening during which our eyes saw Senator Obama, and our mind's eyes saw the history of our freedom struggle almost as if it were a film being shown in slow motion. At each moment that Senator Obama spoke, we were experiencing the sensation of watching two events on separate screens, all playing out in real time.

For those of us who this society has classified as white, this evening probably brings with it a different experience and a fundamental challenge. Those whites who ideologically unite with John McCain have every reason to oppose Barack Obama. But for those who find themselves among the groups about who Barack Obama spoke--the workers who have lost their jobs, the homeowners who have witnessed their homes go to foreclosure, the parents who have watched their children go off to illegal and immoral wars--they have a tough call. If they have concluded that this society is stepping on them and crushing their dreams, can they find it in themselves to vote for a Black man? Or, in the alternative, will they conclude that it is better to have their lives and dreams, and those of their children, obliterated than to take the chance of crossing the racial divide?


Other Obama acceptance speech links: Listen Read Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is the Executive Editor of, a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of the book, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.

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August 28, 2008
Issue 288

is published every Thursday

Executive Editor:
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield
Peter Gamble
Est. April 5, 2002
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