December 24th, 2008
08:12 AM ET

Warren could be Obama's Booker T. Washington

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/18/obama.warren/art.obama.warren.gi.jpg caption="President-elect Barack Obama has chosen pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration."]
DeWayne Wickham
USA Today

If you're looking for an explanation of President-elect Barack Obama's decision to invite conservative evangelical preacher Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration that goes beyond the desire for a kumbaya moment, I've got one: Obama wants to make Warren his Booker T. Washington.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Washington was one of this nation's most influential black leaders. His willingness to try to find common ground with whites who viewed — and treated — blacks as an inferior race made Washington someone presidents reached out to.

Theodore Roosevelt, especially, turned to Washington for advice on "the Negro problem." Taking counsel from "the great accommodationist," as Washington was called, was an act of steam control by the Republican president at a time when the racial divide was undeniably this nation's most explosive problem.

"In all things purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress," Washington said in an 1895 speech that established him as a black leader who was willing to temper the demands of blacks for racial equality.


Filed under: Barack Obama • DeWayne Wickham • Raw Politics
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. higulese45

    Wouldn't it be better for all if we could get the whole nation involved in giving the invocation for Pres. Obama. After all it was us how voted for him and as a 'reward' to us all by allowing everyone to say the invoation, that would be not only fitting but a chance for all of us to offer our voice or prayers for the success of his predicency.
    Not only would it remove any 'relogousity" but would enhance the understanding that we are all one, ie. human beings regardless of what we may beleive in.
    If the cell pone companies would text all users at the moment of the invocation with the words, for free, then we could all read it together and accomplish the 'blessing' from the American people and the world.
    Now that would be a unifying blast-n'cest-pas!

    December 25, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  2. AlanB

    I'm supposed to be glad Obama's chosen someone who'll make it harder for the right to criticize him? If he'd chosen Dobson they wouldn't have criticized him at all. There's politics, and there's human dignity and equality under the law.

    Merry Christmas to one and all! Even if the grinch came and stole my right to marry for the Holidays. If I had one gift I could give this season, it would be for the gay people of Arkansaw–the right to raise children.

    December 24, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  3. Larry

    Why do you keep referring to PE-Obama by the color of his skin?

    December 24, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  4. Max

    AS long as there aren't any LAME DUCKS involved????

    WHAT is it with YOU PEOPLE and DUCKS????

    I like DUCKS.

    December 24, 2008 at 9:20 am |
  5. Kevin South Carolina

    Interesting take...as a Republican I am finding myself following what President Elect Obama is doing. I appreciate the fact his first and foremost priority is to bring the country together and work as one to bring this country back from a very deep recession. I am also impressed by the fact he is quite the historian, developing a plan that is really a modern day "New Deal" from the Roosevelt days. When you look back on the "New Deal" most of this country's largest public works projects were started during that time period. At a time when this nations intrastructure is in need of attention and repair this is a perfect opportunity for the "Modern Day New Deal". 3 million new jobs is an incredible goal I for one hope they achieve it.

    Booker T. Washington was one of this country's great Americans. I don't know if Rev. Warren will be in the same company of Booker T. Washington but you never know. So far, President Elect Obama does seem to have good judgement and clear vision of where he thinks we should go. I, as an American, am very glad to see someone has a plan.

    December 24, 2008 at 9:08 am |