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Dreams Into Dust: The Speech on Race Obama Will Never Give

2008 seems so long ago. When running for president, then-Senator Obama held himself out as post-partisan and above the fray; calm, cool, and different. Americans bought in.

Obama’s “hope” and “change” campaign signaled a new direction, fresh ideas, and appealed to a new generation of voters. Young voters saw the perfect amalgam of a national leader: biracial, attractive, well-educated, and urban cool.  Black Americans looked up to him as a standard bearer, a hip yet erudite man of the world. His election was historic, as it signified to all Americans and the world that there are no racial barriers to achieving the American dream.

Many Americans, whether they voted for him or not, believed Obama when he said: “There is not a black America or a white America or a Latino America or an Asian America; there’s the United States of America.” When he gave that speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he was an instant national sensation.

Post-racial, unifying, uplifting, and all from a Harvard-educated, married black American. With his election, so many Americans thought that we were finally leaving behind the divisive racial politics of the past, the inflammatory demagoguery of Al Sharpton-type agitators and self-promoters, the evil of seeing race.

It all seems so long ago now.

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After six years of this administration, we now know the real Barack Obama. President Obama could have finished the job of binding up this nation’s wounds. But this man was never about healing racial wounds. Instead, he used the office of the presidency to fan racial tensions and to exploit select, isolated incidents, all while pretending he is a uniter, not a divider.

Imagine how different race relations would be in this country today if, starting in January 2009, President Obama used his office to better the black community and race relations. What a difference this could have made in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, where racially motivated violence has set cities ablaze.

Imagine how things might be different if, rather than give the speech he actually gave, Obama had given the following speech at the NAACP National Convention in July of 2009: