Quotable: President Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus

Throughout our history, change has often come slowly. Progress often takes time. We take a step forward, sometimes we take two steps back. Sometimes we get two steps forward and one step back. But it’s never a straight line.  It’s never easy. And I never promised easy.  Easy has never been promised to us. But we’ve had faith. We have had faith. We’ve had that good kind of crazy that says, you can’t stop marching. 

Even when folks are hitting you over the head, you can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop. Even when somebody fires you for speaking out, you can’t stop. Even when it looks like there’s no way, you find a way — you can’t stop. Through the mud and the muck and the driving rain, we don’t stop. Because we know the rightness of our cause — widening the circle of opportunity, standing up for everybody’s opportunities, increasing each other’s prosperity. We know our cause is just. It’s a righteous cause.

So in the face of troopers and teargas, folks stood unafraid. Led somebody like John Lewis to wake up after getting beaten within an inch of his life on Sunday — he wakes up on Monday: We’re going to go march. 

Dr. King once said: “Before we reach the majestic shores of the Promised Land, there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness ahead. We must still face prodigious hilltops of opposition and gigantic mountains of resistance.  But with patient and firm determination we will press on.” 

So I don’t know about you, CBC, but the future rewards those who press on. With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs.  (Applause.)  I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children.  (Applause.)  I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on.  (Applause.)

I expect all of you to march with me and press on.  (Applause.)  Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.
- Image and transcript courtesy of BET

  • http://commentarybyval.blogspot.com/ Val

    I remember him giving a speech in 2008 to a African American audience in Texas. He admonished them about feeding their kids Popeye’s fried chicken for breakfast. I was astonished that he got away with that.

    And I totally agree that when he speaks in front of African Americans he’s really speaking to Tea Party types.

  • Miss Anon

    Thank you!!  Finally, someone said it.  I also found his speech very condescending.  He spoke using words ( yall) and a cadence that is not natural to him and that I have not heard him use to other audiences.

    However, this is not the first time that I have heard him speak disparagingly to his base.  During one of his Debt Ceiling speeches and during other speeches, I have heard him speak in a condescending manner about his progressive base.  I notice that he especially does this while pleading at the altar of bipartisanship.

  • Miss Anon

    Thank you!!  Finally, someone said it.  I also found his speech very condescending.  He spoke using words ( yall) and a cadence that is not natural to him and that I have not heard him use to other audiences.

    However, this is not the first time that I have heard him speak disparagingly to his base.  During one of his Debt Ceiling speeches and during other speeches, I have heard him speak in a condescending manner about his progressive base.  I notice that he especially does this while pleading at the altar of bipartisanship.

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • ch555x

    After all the analyzing and breakdowns of his speech, I still see no problem with it.  The media will slant just about anything for a rating, so take it with a grain of salt…:/

  • http://www.futurebird.com Susan Donovan

    Obama is a master at crafting these speeches than can be heard in very different ways by different people. If I was not thinking deeply I could agree with this, it’s a nice positive sentiment. Keep trying etc. However think of how this sounds to someone who tends to view black people and anti racist organizations as hypersensitive complainers.  We that person could think “who Obama really told them!”  Totally different tone and message. He did this with his famous race speech too. 

    He never talks to black people about the injustice and unfairness we experience TODAY, he talks a lot about simply trying harder, this kind of pep talk is great to give yourself when you look in the mirror each morning, but that’s not the context here. 

    I know he “can’t” do otherwise since he political capital is built on not being one of “those” black people with so many of the white folks who voted for him.  He also knows that black liberals like myself have no other real options, I’ll vote for him this fall so will most black people.

    My only tiny hope is that he drops some of this in the 2nd term.

    But if you lie enough you start to believe your own BS. Or maybe he never was any more liberal than he is today.

    Keep triangulating BO!

    • Tamani

      Obama? Liberal? This dude is only slightly left of Mitt Romney and always has been. That’s why people feel let down – straight up perpetrator.

    • Tamani

      Obama? Liberal? This dude is only slightly left of Mitt Romney and always has been. That’s why people feel let down – straight up perpetrator.

      • http://www.futurebird.com Susan Donovan

        Considering the fact that mittens would gleefully end reproductive freedom for women, dismantle social security and what remains of programs like welfare and hand even larger tax breaks to the rich and corporations I think the difference is a bit bigger than “slight”

        Obama is a moderate democrat maybe even a slightly conservative one, I’ll grate you that.

  • msjgirl

    Well, people have been fighting for a long time anyway, so nothing’s new.  The CBC advocates for a minority group that’s been stigmatized since the beginnings of our country. 

  • http://commentarybyval.blogspot.com/ Val

    “Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.”

    Really? Speaking out about the plight of African Americans during the recession is not complaining, grumbling or crying. The CBC members have been doing what they are supposed to do, trying to help their constituents.

    Why is it that when the President speaks in front of African Americans he’s always telling us what we should be doing but when he speaks in front of others he says what he will do for them?

    • BrookLyn

      This was my first reaction as well but I think POTUS was speaking to the CBC specifically not black people in general.  I asked this question on another board but I’ll pose it here as well.  What has the CBC done for black people in the last 20 years?  They are the old guard.  We need a new breed of activist if we’re going to finish the work of Malcolm, SNCC, the Panthers and MLK.

      • http://commentarybyval.blogspot.com/ Val

        Well for one they have been very vocal regarding the higher than the general population unemployment rates for African Americans. And all Summer long CBC members were organizing job fairs and speaking out about Black unemployment. They have also been trying to hold the President accountable to his Black constituents for the last three years.

        It’s easy to say the CBC isn’t doing anything. And surely in the past many in the CBC have been guilty of doing too little. But for the last few years CBC members have been standing up and talking about Black unemployment and how the mortgage crisis has hurt African Americans when almost no one else has, certainly not the President.

        • BrookLyn

          You know I’m not this President’s biggest fan but I always find his detractors’ reasoning suspect.  The CBC has been talking–so have I.  Where are the bills they’ve put forth?  What have they done to attract business to their districts to get jobs for those Black folks that vote for them over and over again?  Tavis Smiley shills for Wells Fargo out of one side of his mouth while yelling that POTUS hasn’t done enough for Black folks who were hurt in the mortgage crisis.  The CBC “talking” is the equivalent of football fans yelling at the refs on television every Sunday; except they ARE the refs.  They have the ability to change things yet they haven’t.  I really don’t recall hearing the CBC organizing themselves or other democrats to vote for healthcare or against the Iraq war.  Most of the CBC has been in congress more than 10 years so why didn’t they spend some political capital and help get a single payer option passed?  You know why…because the have their bedroom slippers on. 

    • BrookLyn

      This was my first reaction as well but I think POTUS was speaking to the CBC specifically not black people in general.  I asked this question on another board but I’ll pose it here as well.  What has the CBC done for black people in the last 20 years?  They are the old guard.  We need a new breed of activist if we’re going to finish the work of Malcolm, SNCC, the Panthers and MLK.

    • Digital Coyote

      It’s assumed that, because he identifies as Black, he’ll be “easy” on us.  If he talks tough to us (or the people that unite based on our shared background) while making sure he appears to be doing for others, it’s harder for his detractors to paint him in to the making it easier for the undeserving/perpetuating handouts corner.  He also can’t appear to be too close to specifically Black causes after Rev. Wright was blown up all over the news.

      • http://commentarybyval.blogspot.com/ Val

        That would be a fine strategy if he were actually doing something for his Black constituents. Unfortunately all we seem to get is tough talk and little else. His political calculation is obvious; Black voters will stand by him no matter what so why waste time and energy doing anything for us. And I think mostly it’s working. The majority of Black voters appear to still support him. 

        • http://www.futurebird.com Susan Donovan

          Who else is there worth voting for? He’s no worse than Clinton or any of the other Dems we voted for and he’s a hell of a lot better than any republican. 

        • 7thangelz

          what are you talking about? check the policies and the bills passed and how they help the community. just because it’s not named “the black help act of 2011′ doesn’t mean black folks aren’t benefiting from it.

    • http://www.futurebird.com Susan Donovan

      This kind of Bill Cosby talk is very popular with many white people and even some more conservative black folk.

      • k.eli

        As someone who certainly doesn’t identify with the “conservative black folk,” I have to ask what was it that Bill Cosby said that you found so objectionable? Or was it the way he said it that was the problem? (And I ask this honestly, not rhetorically).
         To me, Bill’s talks seemed to be centered on personal responsibility and reorganizing priorities – i.e. valuing education instead of overpriced brand names. And yes, one can argue that these are issues that are also problematic among other ethnicities and that there are many less fortunate black people who do have their priorities set. But unfortunately, there are a lot who don’t and I felt that Bill speaking out was done more along the lines of tough love with the intention of bettering the people of his community rather than simply shaming people for no reason.