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

Be Social:

Ghandi’s Final Days

Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi


Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi, the “Father of India,” was cremated on this day in 1948, one day after he was assassinated on his way to daily prayer. “Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe“, wrote Einstein, “that such a one as this, ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”

Photo Gallery:  Ghandi’s Last Days


From: B. R. Nanda, 1953.

I. Introduction

WHEN GANDHI was born British rule had been established in India.  The uprising of 1857, known as the Mutiny, had merely served to consolidate the British adventure into an empire. India had effectively passed under British tutelage, so effectively indeed, that instead of resenting alien rule the generation of educated Indians were eager to submit to the “Civilizing mission” of their foreign masters.  Political subjection had been reinforced by intellectual and moral servility.  It seemed that the British empire in India was safe for centuries.

When Gandhi died it was India, a free nation that mourned his loss.  The disinherited had recovered their heritage and the “dumb millions” had found their voice.  The disarmed had won a great battle and had in the process evolved a moral force such as to compel the attention, and to some degree, the admiration, of the world.  The story of this miracle is also the story of Gandhi’s life, for he, more than any other was the architect of this miracle.  Ever since his grateful countrymen call him the Father of the Nation.

And yet it would be an exaggeration to say that Gandhi alone wrought this miracle.  No single individual, however great and wonderful, can be the sole engineer of a historical process.  A succession of remarkable predecessors and elder contemporaries had quarried and broken the stones which helped Gandhi to pave the way for India’s independence.  They had set in motion various trends in the intellectual, social and moral consciousness of the people which the genius Gandhi mobilized and directed in a grand march.  Raja Rammohan Roy, Ramkrishna Paramhamsa and his great disciple, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Dadabhai Navroji, Badruddin Tyabji, Syed Ahmed Khan, Ranade, Gokhale, Tilak, Aurobindo Ghosh and Rabindranath Tagore, to name only a few.  Each one of them, had in his own, field created a consciousness of India’s destiny and helped to generate a spirit of sacrifice which, in Gandhi’s hands, became the instruments of a vast political-cum-moral upheaval.  Had Gandhi been born hundred years earlier he could hardly have achieved what he did.  Nevertheless, it is true, that, but for Gandhi, India’s political destiny would have been vastly different and her moral stature vastly inferior.

But though Gandhi lived, suffered and died in India for Indians, it is not in relation to India’s destiny alone that his life has significance.  Future generations will not only remember him as a patriot, politician and nation-builder but much more.  He was essentially a moral force, whose appeal is to the conscience of man and therefore universal.  He was the servant and friend of man as man and not as belonging to this or that nation, religion or race.  If he worked for Indians only, it was because he was born among them and because their humiliation and suffering supplied the necessary incentives to his moral sensibility.  The lesson of his life therefore is for all to read.  He founded no church and though he lived by faith he left behind no dogma for the faithful to quarrel over.  He gave no attributes to God save Truth and prescribed no path for attaining it save honest and relentless search through means that injure no living thing.  Who dare therefore claim Gandhi for his own except by claiming him for all?

Another lesson of his life which should be of universal interest is that he was not born a genius and did not exhibit in early life any extraordinary faculty that is not shared by the common run of men.  He was no inspired bard like Rabindranath Tagore, he had no mystic visions like Ramakrishna Paramhansa, he was no child prodigy like Shankara or Vivekananda.  He was just an ordinary child like most of us.  If there was anything extraordinary about him as a child, it was his shyness, a handicap from which he suffered for a long time.  No doubt, something very extraordinary must have been latent in his spirit which later developed into an iron will and combined with a moral sensibility made him what he became, but there was little evidence of it in his childhood.  We may therefore derive courage and inspiration from the knowledge that if he made himself what he was, there is no visible reason why we should not be able to do the same.

His genius, so to speak, was an infinite capacity for taking pains in fulfillment of a restless moral urge.  His life was one continuous striving, an unremitting sadhana, a relentless search for truth, not abstract or metaphysical truth, but such truth as can be realized in human relations.  He climbed step by step, each step no bigger than a man’s, till when we saw him at the height he seemed more than a man.    “Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe“, wrote Einstein, “that such a one as this, ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”  If at the end he seemed like no other man, it is good to remember that when he began he was like any other man.

Such is the great lesson of his life. Fortunately, he has himself recorded for us the main incidents of his life till 1921 and described with scrupulous veracity the evolution of his moral and intellectual consciousness. Had he not done so, there would have been in India no dearth of devout chroniclers who would have invented divine portents at his birth and invested him with a halo from his childhood.

The complete bibliography continues here.

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