President Obama’s speech in Selma, Alabama on Saturday—commemorating the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”—was a major moment in his presidency, and a reminder to all how far we have come as a nation in 50 years.
The context and setting of the speech helped to amplify the power of the President’s words, which ring poetic throughout.
We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people. That’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction, because we know our efforts matter. We know America is what we make of it.
The speech contains passage after passage of language artfully rendered. President Obama has a strong vision for America—and his own place in it—which is both remarkable, and proof that we have indeed “broke the old aristocracies,” at least to some degree.
Yet, racism is not gone from the American scene. It is still a daily reality for many Americans. Pick any headline (or personal incident) you want. For instance, David Boren, the President of University of Oklahoma, banned a fraternity from campus on Monday and declared the students “a disgrace” and “not real Sooners”, for singing a racist chant at a frat function.
Hats off to David Boren in Norman, OK. “We know America is what we make of it.” The struggle to make ourselves and our nation better is not easy, nor will it be easy going forward, but it is a struggle worthy of our energy and full attention.
As President Obama said on Saturday, “We are the people Emerson wrote of, ‘who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long; who are ‘never tired,’ so long as we can see far enough.”