March 18th, 2008
12:55 PM ET

Obama on Race

Senator Obama’s speech  is over.

Now it’s your turn to speak out.

The presidential candidate covered some big, explosive issues during his 45-minute address.

He tried to distance himself from the fiery sermons made by his former pastor.  While he strongly condemned Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.’s comments as divisive, distorted and wrong, he would not denounce him, saying  “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”
Watch Sen. Obama's speech

Sen. Obama also had some more sweeping remarks about the general issue of race in the United States.  “This is where we are right now,” he said.  “It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own."

But he is putting it out there.

Will his speech help or hurt his chances of becoming President?

And is our nation in a racial stalemate?

– Gabe Falcon, 360° Writer

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. reggie

    I’ve decided to add to my previous thoughts. I now also think it is insulting, that we should believe Obama had no idea how his pastor felt. That he went to that church for 20 years, and claims he never heard these things. It’s not about his race or thinking he is a racist. It’s now about truthfulness. He is a liar. Add to this his wifes’ comments, his association with Resco, and now this. Great judgment, right? One vote, is what he was basing his superior judgment on. If he is on the ticket, top or bottom, I’ll vote for McCain! It would be the first time I ever considered voting for a republican.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  2. Teddy

    OBAMA HAS PROVEN THAT HE'S THE RACIST!!! Not America. When will America stand up to the fact that America admitted & corrected our wrong-doing in the slavery mess, but black racists still hold-it-over-our-heads to this day. Come on people....that was a long time ago. Why haven't the black racists corrected their part in the slavery mess? Slavery still exists in Africa to this day!!! And it was "black" Africans who loaded up the boats of slaves and sold their own people for money. America needed workers for our booming expansion, so we wrote a check to the black man who sold his own people. When will the black racists admit that? Obama's grandmother told the truth. I, too, am afraid of a black man walking down the street at night. She had a good reason to be afraid and so do I. We have all experienced the black man's hatred of white man. Obama will not "disown" his hateful pastor...doesn't that show where his heart is? His own wife used hateful words toward America. This is REAL HATE America. It's not us, it's them.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  3. jausti8371k

    I think we all should pray for peace and understanding. The Bible says let the one with out sin cast the first stone. I love Pastor Wright and I don't agree with everything he says. However he is a man after God's own heart. For centuries my Euro brothers and sisters justified slavery and the mistreatment of African Americans with the Bible. You know the curse of Ham. Understand that Senator Barak is not Rev. Wright and should not be asked to disown Pastor Wright.

    My Godparents are white and I love them just as I love Pastor Wright! Be Blessed and let's learn to be honest with one another and learn to love each other as Jesus loves us.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  4. roger hoop

    well let us not forget the first part of the week...
    did he ( OBAMA ) say on 360 the he set in this church for 20 yrs. and did not hear his pastor say any thing like this...
    but in his talk today he said YES... he did hear him say things like this........ WELL now we must call him on that ...

    March 18, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  5. Cosmic Rabbit

    On Obama speech-find myself sorely dissappointed in both the speech, and in Obama. You cannot disown the words, but embrace the man, and he did not apologize to us for lying, only admitted indirectly that he had lied.

    The Democratic Party, those of us who have already voted are going now experiencing the buyer's remorse spoken about a few weeks ago, disliking our choice after the votes have been counted. Sadly, Obama might squeek out the Democratic Nomination, and in doing so will hand the White House to John McCain and the Republicans.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  6. Heidi, LOU.,KY

    my friend said ,she will not vote for Obama ,becouse ,he is black
    she will vote for Clinton,becouse ,she is woman and white
    i have read history, this country owes more to black people ,than women

    March 18, 2008 at 8:45 pm |
  7. Kenyatta

    I have heard the speeach and I have heard some of the sermon from Pastor Wirght, but I did not hear the entire sermon. But what he was not wrong, but true. And that is how a lot of African American's feel. I live in Dallas, TX and I attend a verl large African America church FWBC and my pastor gets heated when he is really giving the word and he gets a little derogatory toward white people and people he shes is not truly living the life we are meant to live. If you have never attended a black church then you don't know what I am talking about or Pastor Wright. Why should he have to denouce his relationship with his pastor, what he says has nothing to do with Mr. Obama as a man or president. He never stated that he heard any political degregation, but he has said things he has not agreed with. And like someone else stated I don't see all the catholics denouncing their priest for the ill they have spread with the alter boys for generations. And before you comment on his speech see the etire speech and listen (and really listen without any prejudices) you can see this man is what this country needs to bring us all together. Especially so another Jena ^ or Hurricane Katrina happens again.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  8. Tracy

    Why should Obama denounce his pastor when Evangelical ministers such as Billy Graham made a very racist statement in 1940 by stating "Stephen, If it weren't for you wretched Britishers, we wouldn't have any Negroes in this country anyway, we wouldn't have this mess." Stephen Olford is a minister and author of several inspirational books. Given this information , let CNN address this statement since all of the living Presidents last year attended Graham's dedication in North Carolina.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  9. case

    Obama delivered an excellent speech which addressed issues no other Politician dare touch (but need too), but half the country will depend on bias pundits to describe it to them rather than listening to for themselves.. sad.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  10. don - ohio

    The reverand wright issue is about race to a point. Ask your self why most people go to church in the first place. Worship God, hear their pastor speak and socialize with church family. When you pick a church the pastor and what he has to say is probably the most important and church family second. But if you go often it is usually because you sre comfortable with the sermons and the chuch. I don't know about you but if i did not believe my pastor i most certainly would not be going to that church for twenty years. If my pastor used the lords name in vain i would pack up and leace. The church is for worship and if it is used for anything else they should loose their tax free status!!!it's not about race it's about worshipping the lord. No speech can sugar coat the comments that were made.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:29 pm |
  11. C. Slack

    Some of you really sound stupid...Who amoung us don't have people in our lives, associates or family members that say things that you don't agree with. Comments that you totally disagree with but they continue to be in your life in one way or another. A lot of you are bold face hypocrites. Have you turned your back on friends who have used the n-word in your company......My point exactly.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:15 pm |
  12. Abolmore B.

    I'm Catholic, but besides what Church I belong to, I always thought that in the Bible, Jesus said "listen to what they say but don't do what they do"! Now, politicians, like senator Obama for instance, are telling us "don't listen to what they say"...HA! I doubt that the "common" people can reject what their preachers say as easy as senator Obama did today. I believe the common people are deeply affected by those sermonts...but maybe politicians are exempt! Very deep speech though...

    March 18, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  13. Jahman

    I am quiet surprised by the level of ignorance of some of these posters. They find every excuse in the book for not voting for Obama because of his race and yet they are calling his pastor racist. Before we start to cast judgement on people we should first take a look in the mirror and ask ourself the same question.

    Let's face it America is one of the biggest racist country in the world. The world knows it. So, I am not sure why we are trying to be in denial as if what Mr. Wright's is saying is not true. All the various ethnic groups in the US are racist! Plain and simple! White, Black, Asians, Hispanic – they are all racist! Why does Hispanics vote only for Hillary? Why does Asians vote only for Hillary? Why does Obama have to struggle to get white male votes? All BIG signs of racism!

    We find every excuse in the book not to vote for a Black candidate, while we practice the very same bigotry we are accusing others of. 27% of White males in Ohio said they did not vote for Obama because of his race. Com'on!!! Who are the true racist here?

    Obama is the most inspirational and qualified candidate in the bunch. If he was white this race would have been over a month ago. The racist voters in Texas and Ohio kept Clinton in the race.

    First Obama was a Muslim, now he is a Christian but with the wrong paster? PLease make up your minds and stick to one garbage at a time.

    Obama is a racist, while he was brought up by a white mother and a white grandmother. If anything he would have been racist against Blacks because his grandmother used to utter racist comments about Blacks! This all hypocracy and HATE!

    Until you can all prove to the world that you can move beyond race as a country, then you will continue to be looked at in a negative tone as a racist country...plain and simple

    March 18, 2008 at 7:02 pm |
  14. John St Louis

    I think we need to recognize a very important distinction between Geraldine Ferraro's statements and the Rev. Wright's. Ferraro's were NOT hate filled. Wright's statements were frightening in the amount of vehement ignorant hatred towards white America, which is by far the majority of the nation.

    March 18, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  15. Michele


    CNN you're losing my vote!

    When will you air Obama's speech in its entirety? Your site has 2.01min. of his speech, followed by Wright's 2.48min.????????????????????

    March 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
  16. Tammy

    What I find most ironic is that this whole race issue and his speech to heal America did nothing more than divide us further apart as a nation (read all of the statements on the blogs and listen to the pundits and news reporters from the various networks). So much for Obama bringing change, hope, and unity to the people...

    March 18, 2008 at 6:34 pm |
  17. Kathie

    Where is Obama's anger, disappointment and hurt that Rev Wright
    used Obama's name as the basis for his hurtful sermon? His
    name is laced all through it. Did we hear Obama say in his speech
    that he has told Rev Wright not to use his name in that manner?
    Ah NO! Only thing we heard him say is I never heard this sermon,
    or ones like it.. Then today he confirmed he is a liar when he muttered
    yes, I've sat there during the sermons that had these negative

    March 18, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  18. Nord

    Johny, Robyn, Xtina, and other like them, please go post you blogs on Fox channel, we have no room for racist red necks in this site. go to your rotten filty houses and die white.

    March 18, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  19. Nelly

    With all due respect, was Barack Obama suggesting somehow that only he and not Hillary Clinton could address the racial issues still ongoing in the US, (in addition to his being the best qualified to deal with the economic, military, healthcare and social problems) simply because he was both black and white? Does that mean that Hillary cannot possibly address issues pertinent to men (see list above) simply because she is a woman? It seems to me that the Obama coalition had been quick to denounce any reference to race when made by Bill Clinton or Geraldine Ferraro (neither having anything close to a racist record), but somehow when true racism is expressed as choosing a black man against a white woman, it can simply be excused as 'frustration' by an angry old man. I would like to believe that the racial issues enunciated by Obama would be addressed by either Obama or Clinton; the real issue remains: of the two, who is best qualified NOW to be President?

    March 18, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  20. Vicke

    In regards to the statements that Pastor Jeremiah Wright made...Was he telling Lies? Or was he telling the Truth? How can the Truth be racial? How can the Truth be divisive?

    March 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  21. len

    >>Will his speech help or hurt his chances of becoming President?

    It won't change the fact that he waited too late and made too many contradictory statements. He shows that he lacks discernment and the ability to make the right decisions even on topics to which he has given considerable thought. When it got to the crunch, he chose to protect his candidacy instead of the values he espoused. He is not ready for the toughest job in the world. He may be someday, but his time is not yet come.

    >>And is our nation in a racial stalemate?

    No. If it were, his candidacy could not have come as far as it has. He is the proof of change if not the agent of change. Have we come far enough? The fact as stated by him that statements such as those made by Wright are typical of the black church experience in America proves we have not. We have a lot of anger and hate yet to lay down.

    However, the sad fact is if he does lose this nomination, it will be the statements of his pastor and his own refusal to confront him many years ago that beat him. Trying to spin that any other way is exactly the kind of response that keeps us from making that progress so many desire so earnestly.

    March 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  22. Anita

    Well, I'm sooooooooo disappointed in Obama. His speech sounded like a politician that needed to find a hole to cover up in. What scares me now is that he will be the Democratic nominee and go up against McCain in the fall, and I personally don't see how he can win the election with this in his closet, and that's just where he left it today! Please Mr. Obama swallow some pride, step aside and endorse Hilary ! If Clinton's name isn't on the 08 ballot, I won't vote in the fall election.

    March 18, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  23. Paul lyons

    I have heard Obama's recent speech on the news today and found that he himself, said that he cannot, and will not, distance his beliefs from his Reverend, of whom he also it seems has self described as an "old Uncle."

    Therefore as a white man who grew up and witnessed racial discrimination against blacks in the south in my youth; I also cannot distance myself from his past dealings with a racest Preacher and unfortunatelly will not be voting for this man of whom I thought could really bring about racial healing within our society...pity...And I still have alot of Black friends; but we don't talk about hate of the other races or of whats taken place in the past... We all, find that kind of attitude, to be very unproductive.

    March 18, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  24. rupa

    what an honest, brilliant, passionate persona is this man we call BARACK OBAMA. Now whether the people of America will appreciate him or not, that is to be seen, we can only hope for the better future for us and wait and see that America can grow tall to identify the fact that we were lacking intelligence for so long in our politics and here it comes, do not let it get sleped away......

    March 18, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  25. Cheryll

    I have submitted my comments on a lot of these blog and have yet to have them put out there and I think it is because of what I have said. While I have not said anything crazy or demeaning, I have spoken the truth about this county and the state we are in. It is the 21st century and with the possibility of finally making history in this country and where are we, jerking around with this issue. Everyone has dealt with a person or family member who has said something that was off the collar or just down right racist even when we claim we are not and if you say you don't know anyone then you are a liar or you have not lived long enough. Mr. Obama's speech was put together in his words that is why he was able to read it without looking at a cue card or papers, you can only do that when it is your words. But it did come from his heart and it spoke the truth, a truth that was long over due and a truth that unfortunately I wish we could move on from because to do so would mean that we have advanced as a society. But then I read the above comments of people that just don't get it and frankly don't want to get it and you know what, that is fine, that is your right and that is what makes America what she is. But I am sick of hearing how he is un-american he how does not really like white people. HE IS HALF WHITE PEOPLE! Please can we all just and get a long and grow up.

    March 18, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  26. Sandie

    Say what you will. Whether you believe him or not, I can say that, as a voter, this is the first time I ever recall a politican seriously taking to task the issues of race in this country. That he had the guts to even attempt to should be commended. It would have been so easy to just turn his back on Rev. Wright to save his candidacy. And no one would have blamed him. While wholely rejecting the Reverend's statements, for Sen. Obama to refuse to throw their relationship into the fire to save himself is a concept that seems LOST in today's politics. Probably the most important speech on race in the last 25 years. Brave. Bold. Honest.

    March 18, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
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