Obama in Selma: “I Am The Fruits of Your Labor”


Photo Gallery: A March for The Right to Vote

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Presidential candidate Barack Obama paid homage to the civil rights pioneers who he said helped to give him a chance to break down barriers to the White House. Obama linked arms with activists who were attacked by police with billyclubs during a peaceful voting rights march 42 years ago. “Bloody Sunday” shocked the nation and helped bring attention to the racist voting practices that kept blacks from the polls.

I’m here because somebody marched for our freedom,” Obama, who would become our first African-American president, said from the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church where the march began on March 7, 1965. “I’m here because you all sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of giants.” Obama, who was three years old on “Bloody Sunday,” delivered a call to action that would be politically unfeasible for Clinton or any of his other white rivals. He said that the present generation of African-Americans does not always honor the civil rights movement and needs to take responsibility for improving their lives by rejecting violence; cleaning up “40-ounce bottles” and other trash that litters urban neighborhoods; and voting instead of complaining that the government is not helping them.

How can it be that our voting rates dropped down to 30, 40, 50 percent when people shed their blood to allow us to vote?” Obama asked earlier at a unity breakfast with community leaders. At the breakfast, Obama got a key to the city and another to surrounding Dallas County from a probate judge, Kim Ballard. “Forty-two years ago he might would have needed it because I understand it would open the jail cells,” Ballard said. “But not today.”

Obama said the fight for civil rights reverberated across the globe and inspired his father to aspire to something beyond his job herding goats in Kenya. His father moved to Hawaii to get an education under a program for African students and met Obama’s mother, a fellow student from Kansas.

Obama said he was not surprised when it was reported last week that his white ancestors on his mother’s side owned slaves. “That’s no surprise in America,” he said and added that the civil rights struggle made it possible for such a diverse couple to fall in love.

If it hasn’t been for Selma, I wouldn’t be here,” Obama said. “This is the site of my conception. I am the fruits of your labor. I am the offspring of the movement. When people ask me whether I’ve been to Selma before, I tell them I’m coming home.”

An excerpt from Obama’s Speech at the Brown A.M.E. Chapel in Selma, Alabama:

Keep in your heart the prayer of that journey, the prayer that God gave to Joshua. Be strong and have courage in the face of injustice. Be strong and have courage in the face of prejudice and hatred, in the face of joblessness and helplessness and hopelessness. Be strong and have courage, brothers and sisters, those who are gathered here today, in the face of our doubts and fears, in the face of skepticism, in the face of cynicism, in the face of a mighty river. Be strong and have courage and let us cross over that Promised Land together.

The full text of his speech is available here.

For an excellent biographic note and 2008 Election Overview, please visit here.

As for Hillary? Andrew Sullivan posted this opinion of her Selma speech in his blog, The Daily Dish:

The Fathomless Fakeness of Clinton

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