Obama Continues Call for Social ResponsibilityPublished by Pamela Gentry on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm.
By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Producer
July 15, 2008 — Sen. Barack Obama told thousands gathered to hear him speak at the annual meeting of the NAACP’s convention he would not halt his call for African-Americans to embark on “individual responsibility” as part of the solution for improving the plight of Black families and communities.
Obama who is poised to become the first Black Democratic presidential nominee, said his journey to the White House, should he win, isn’t enough, stressing that it will require all Americans to exercise greater social responsibility.
His remarks during the civil rights organization’s 99th annual convention in Cincinnati Monday night praised those Black leaders, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rep. John Lewis, and the organization’s executive director, Julian Bond, for paving the way for today’s aspirating leaders. He told the crowd of 3,000, “If we’re serious about reclaiming that dream, we have to do more in our own lives.
”But with providing the guidance our children need, turning off the TV set and putting away the video games; attending those parent-teacher conferences; helping our children with their homework; setting a good example. That’s what everybody’s got to do,” Obama insisted.
He received thunderous applause when he urged Blacks to demand more of themselves, without mentioning recent criticism he received from the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Last week Jackson accused Obama of “talking down” to Black folks in his earlier comments on the issue of “responsibility” of Black men to their families. Jackson later issued an apology to the Illinois senator for his remarks.
But Obama reiterated the theme Monday night, saying, “I know some say I’ve been too tough on folks talking about responsibility. NAACP, I’m here to report, I’m not going to stop talking about it. Because as much I’m out there to fight to make sure that government’s doing its job and the marketplace is doing its job, … none of it will make a difference — at least not enough of a difference — if we also don’t at the same time seize more responsibility in our own lives.”
The 46-year-old, father of two, told those gathered at the Duke Energy Center that “when we are taking care of our own stuff, then a lot of other folks are going to be interested in joining up and working with us and taking care of America’s stuff. We can lead by example, as we did in the Civil Rights Movement. Because the problems that plague our community are not unique to us. We just have them a little worse, but they’re not unique to us.”
Obama revealed in his books that he grew up without his father and has spoken often about the importance of parental responsibility and fathers participating in their children’s lives.
Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) is scheduled to address the convention on Wednesday.