Barack Obama: Address to the NAACP Centennial Convention



It is difficult to calculate the specific impact of Obama’s 2009 speech before the NAACP. In terms of policy, it is in keeping with many themes of the early Obama administration: a focus on domestic issues aimed at bettering the lives of the poor and working class through health care reform; a continuation of previous administrations’ education policies with their focus on accountability through testing; encouragement of charter schools and early childhood education (albeit differing from those policies with additional funding); and a revivification of the civil rights division of the Department of Justice. It suggests, however, a transition from legislative and policy efforts as the focal point of the civil rights struggle toward a “no excuses,” “postracial” striving for success. That said, the issue of racism remains unavoidable: On the same day Obama delivered this speech, the renowned black scholar and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was...

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