Barack Obama: A New Sense of Normal.

The American Spectator’s Ezra Klein made these thought-provoking comments about his personal reactions to the historic moment of Barack Obama’s speech that announced winning the Democratic nomination, just in case you might not have read them yet:

“Obama’s speech tonight was powerful, but then, most all of his speeches are. This address stood out less than I expected. It took me an hour to realize how extraordinary that was. I had just watched an African-American capture the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America, and it felt…normal. Almost predictable. 50 years ago, African-Americans often couldn’t vote, and dozens died in the fight to ensure them the franchise. African-Americans couldn’t use the same water fountains or rest rooms as white Americans. Black children often couldn’t attend the same schools as white children. Employers could discriminate based on race. 50 years ago, African-Americans occupied, in effect, a second, and lesser, country. Today, an African-American man may well become the president of the whole country, and it feels almost normal.

It was, to be sure, not entirely unpredicted. On March 31st, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. preached his final Sunday sermon. “We shall overcome,” he said, “because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Four days later, he was murdered. But 40 years later, his dream is more alive than he could have ever imagined. Not only might a Black man be president, but at times, many forget to even be surprised by it.”

More from Ezra Klein’s article can be accessed here.

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John Edwards Endorses Barack Obama for President

John Edwards Endorses Barack Obama for President

John Edwards, the former North Carolina Senator who bowed out of the presidential race last January, endorsed Senator Barack Obama at a rally that was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday night, May 14th. Officials announced the news shortly after Obama landed in Grand Rapids late Wednesday afternoon.

Barack Obama’s campaign is hoping that it will be a big step toward the party’s coalescing around Senator Obama as the Democratic nominee. The endorsement has ended many months of speculation about Mr. Edwards’s preference in the Democratic nominating contest, during most of which he generally stayed silent and remained close to home in Chapel Hill (NC).

In his endorsement, Mr. Edwards voiced a theme of a nation that is presently divided, torn into parts by walls. He then went on to say “The reason I am here tonight is that Democratic voters in America have made their choice and so have I.” Edwards concluded by declaring, “There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to tear down that wall and make one America, Barack Obama.”

John Edwards’ Endorsement Speech

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Yes We Can: An Emotional Song for Change

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Obama’s Win: A Huge, Decisive Step Toward the Nomination

Senator Barack Obama won a clearly decisive 14-point victory over Hillary Clinton in the North Carolina primary on Tuesday and lost by less than two points to Clinton in the Indiana primary, an outcome that infused a huge boost of momentum to Obama’s candidacy as the Democratic nominating contest entered its final weeks.

The results from those two Democratic presidential primaries, the largest of the remaining Democratic ones, was assured to further widen Obama’s lead in pledged delegates over Hillary, providing him with new ammunition as he seeks to persuade the major Democratic leaders to coalesce around his campaign. He also increased his lead in the popular vote in winning the North Carolina Primary by more than 250,000 votes.

Don’t ever forget that we have a choice in this country,” Mr. Obama said in his address in Raleigh, N.C., that carried the unity themes of a convention speech. “We can choose not to be divided; that we can choose not to be afraid; that we can still choose this moment to finally come together and solve the problems we’ve talked about all those other years in all those other elections.”

Barack Obama’s North Carolina Victory Speech

We now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be,” NBC’s Tim Russert declared on MSNBC last night after Obama had decisively drubbed Clinton in North Carolina, winning there by fourteen points, and ending up within less than two points of her in Indiana. Russert, NBC’s host of Meet the Press, declared that the Democratic presidential nominee is going to be Barack Obama.

The moment came shortly after midnight Eastern time, captured in a devastatingly declarative statement from Tim Russert of NBC News: “We now know who the Democratic nominee’s going to be, and no one’s going to dispute it,” he said on MSNBC. “Those closest to her will give her a hard-headed analysis, and if they lay it all out, they’ll say: ‘What is the rationale? What do we say to the undeclared super delegates tomorrow? Why do we tell them you’re staying in the race?’ And tonight, there’s no good answer for that.”

The impact of Russert’s statements was apparent almost immediately, starting with The Drudge Report, the online news billboard that is the home page to many political reporters in Washington and news producers in New York. It had as its lead story a link to a YouTube clip of Mr. Russert’s comments, accompanied by a photograph of a beaming Mr. Obama with his wife, Michelle, and the headline, “The Nominee.”

NBC’s Tim Russert: “We Now Know: The Democratic Nominee Will be Obama”

Music Audio: Josh Groban/You Raise Me Up:

Obama’s Strong N. C. Win May Now Assure Him the Nomination

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Chicago’s Legendary Minnie Riperton Sings: Lovin’ You

Chicago’s Legendary Minnie Riperton Sings: Lovin’ You

As a young girl, Minnie Riperton studied music, drama, and dance at Chicago’s Abraham Lincoln Centre, an urban social and cultural center that was originally founded in 1905 as a settlement house in the historic Bronzeville community of Chicago’s South-Side.

As a teenager, she sang lead vocals for a Chicago-based girl group, The Gems. If you listen closely to Fontella Bass’ hit single Rescue Me you can hear the young Riperton, along with The Gems, singing the soulful chorus. Her early connections with the legendary Chess Records in Chicago gave her the chance to sing backup for many other acclaimed performers, including Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. While with Chess, Riperton also sang for the experimental rock/soul group Rotary Connection from 1967 to 1971. Riperton reached the apex of her short career with her number one hit single, Lovin’ You, in the spring of 1975. The single was the last release from her 1974 gold album Perfect Angel.

In 1976, at the age of of twenty-eight, Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. In 1977, Riperton became the first African-American woman to serve as spokesperson for the American Cancer Society and to receive the Society’s Courage Award from then-President Jimmy Carter. On Thursday July 12, 1979, at the age of 31, Riperton lost her valiant struggle with cancer. She died peacefully in her husband’s arms while listening to a recording of a song that Stevie Wonder had written for her. Stevie Wonder still considers Minnie Riperton to be one of the greatest singers of our time. In his remarks written about Mariah Carey in Time Magazine’s recent 2008 List of The 100 Most Influential People, Stevie Wonder wrote, “I’ve met only three people who had a truly wonderful voice and spirit to match: my first wife Syreeta, Minnie Riperton and Mariah.”

In addition to her musical legacy, Minnie Riperton is survived by her husband, Richard Rudolph; a son, Marc Rudolph; and a daughter, Maya Rudolph, who has been a cast member of Saturday Night Live.

Minnie Riperton: Lovin’ You

Stevie Wonder’s Tribute to Minnie Riperton: Perfect Angel (1979)

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Barack Obama: This is My Patriotism, These are My Values

N. C. Jefferson-Jackson Speech: This is My Patriotism, These are My Values

At the North Carolina State Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Raleigh (NC) on Friday evening, the immense room exploded with energy when Barack Obama walked onto the stage after Hillary Clinton, who had received what observers have described as a far more tepid reception.

This election is not about rich versus poor, or young versus old or black versus white,” he said, as supporters waved thousands of blue Obama campaign signs.  “It’s about the past versus the future, and in four days, you can choose to turn the page.”

My story is not possible except in the United States of America.  I would not be here were it not for the fact that somebody, somewhere stood up for me.  And because one person stood up, a few more stood up, and then a thousand stood up, and then a million stood up.  That’s why Hillary Clinton can run for President.  That’s why I can run for President…because somebody stood up.  And the question now is: Will the Democratic Party stand up for the next generation?  That’s my Patriotism.  Those are my Values.  Those are your Values.  That’s what we’re fighting for in this election.”

N. C. Jefferson Jackson Dinner, May 2, 2008

Barack Obama: This is My Patriotism, These are My Values

Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin reported late Saturday that Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks is endorsing Barack Obama for President.  The acclaimed actor and activist, who previously had given money to both the Obama and Clinton presidential campaigns, posted a compelling video on his MySpace page explaining his choice.  The video is presented for you below:

Acclaimed Actor Tom Hanks Endorses Senator Barack Obama

For a second time last week, Obama played basketball in front of the television cameras, but this time it was with the big boys.  Despite having held a late night campaign rally, Obama was up bright and early before 7:00 a.m., arriving at one of the hallowed grounds of college basketball, the home of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.  Obama headed to the court for a quick morning game, a five-on-five warm-up with the University of North Carolina basketball team.

Shooting Hoops: Basketball with the UNC Basketball Team

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Barack Obama Unequivocably Cuts Ties to Ex-Pastor

Earlier this morning, Barack Obama closely reviewed excerpts from Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s reckless and freewheeling speech that was given at The National Press Club breakfast on Monday morning in Washington. Deeply and visibly angry, Obama insisted upon holding a second press conference about Wright today in Winston-Salem (NC) in order to unequivocally denounce Rev. Wright’s conduct, as well as to to completely sever himself from his ex-pastor’s tirades. I have waited to post about this matter. In the meantime, mainstream and blogger pundits already have rushed to fill the print and internet media with clairvoyant mind-readings and armchair psychobabble about Obama’s comments today. As for myself, this ongoing affair has bolstered my own conviction that it is not a matter of simple antiquarianism that we should always be mindful of our Founders concern for a separation of Church and State, and of the dangers inherent in allowing that distinction to become more and more obscure.

Marc Ambinder provided an accurate summary of Obama’s Winston-Salem comments this afternoon in The Atlantic Magazine:

The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” Obama said. “His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs… If Reverend Wright thinks that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, I may not know him as well as I thought either.”

I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church,” he said. “But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the U.S. wartime efforts with terrorism – then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced, and that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.”

It is antithetical to my campaign. It is antithetical to what I’m about. It is not what I think America stands for,” he said.

Ambinder concluded his summary by noting that, “Obama has denounced Wright’s remarks before. But in the past, Obama gave Wright “the benefit of the doubt“–i.e., said he considered such remarks aberrations, outliers, deviations not in keeping with the sermons that he himself had heard over his two decades at Trinity. Now, according to Obama, Wright’s willingness to repeat such “ridiculous propositions”–in effect, “caricaturing himself”–has led him to the conclusion that either Wright has changed or that he was wrong about the minister all along. “Based on his remarks yesterday,” said Obama. “I may not know him as well as I thought.” By acting nutty in public, in other words, Wright gave Obama the license to openly say in public, “I now see why all of you think he’s nutty.”

Barack Obama Renounces Ex-Pastor Wright

I strongly encourage viewers to read an article by Peggy Noonan about her overall impressions of the current state of the presidential race, which was published last Friday in The Wall Street Journal and can be accessed here.

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Yesteryear’s New York: The Belly of the Beast

Jill Freedman: Love Kills (1979)

Jill Freedman: Tiffany

During the 1970s and 80s, an adventurous blonde named Jill Freedman with a quick eye for the unusual and bizarre focussed her camera upon the spirited characters and gritty sidewalks of a now-bygone era in New York City life. This modernist documentarian was a self-taught photographer who captured raw, intimate images in black and white, transforming urban scenes into theatrical dramas.

Freedman’s portrait of New York reflected a fallen city that was strewn with piles of garbage. Prostitutes and bag ladies walked the streets, while junkies staked out abandoned tenements next to children playing in vacant lots. For reasons involving both a shift in photographic styles and her own declining personal circumstances, Ms. Freedman faded from the popular scene in the late 1980s. But today, at a moment when much of Manhattan is awash in money and glamour, Freedman’s photographic legacy offers us a vivid portrait of a metropolis once defined by violence, poverty and disarray, a New York that once was.

Jill Freedman’s New York: Poverty, Violence and Disarray

Read more about Jill Freedman’s photography in The New York Times here.

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