Obama on the Record: NAACP Centennial Convention

The same story holds true for Michelle. The same story holds true for so many of you. And I want all the other Barack Obamas out there, and all the other Michelle Obamas out there — (applause) — to have the same chance — the chance that my mother gave me; that my education gave me; that the United States of America has given me. That’s how our union will be perfected and our economy rebuilt. That is how America will move forward in the next 100 years.

And we will move forward. This I know — for I know how far we have come. Some, you saw, last week in Ghana, Michelle and I took Malia and Sasha and my mother-in-law to Cape Coast Castle, in Ghana. Some of you may have been there. This is where captives were once imprisoned before being auctioned; where, across an ocean, so much of the African American experience began.

We went down into the dungeons where the captives were held. There was a church above one of the dungeons — which tells you something about saying one thing and doing another. (Applause.) I was — we walked through the “Door Of No Return.” I was reminded of all the pain and all the hardships, all the injustices and all the indignities on the voyage from slavery to freedom.

But I was reminded of something else. I was reminded that no matter how bitter the rod, how stony the road, we have always persevered. (Applause.) We have not faltered, nor have we grown weary. As Americans, we have demanded, and strived for, and shaped a better destiny. And that is what we are called on to do once more. NAACP, it will not be easy. It will take time. Doubts may rise and hopes may recede.

But if John Lewis could brave Billy clubs to cross a bridge — (applause) — then I know young people today can do their part and lift up our community. (Applause.)

If Emmet Till’s uncle, Mose Wright, could summon the courage to testify against the men who killed his nephew, I know we can be better fathers and better brothers and better mothers and sisters in our own families. (Applause.)

If three civil rights workers in Mississippi — black, white, Christian and Jew, city-born and country-bred — could lay down their lives in freedom’s cause, I know we can come together to face down the challenges of our own time. (Applause.) We can fix our schools — (applause) — we can heal our sick, we can rescue our youth from violence and despair. (Applause.)

And 100 years from now, on the 200th anniversary of the NAACP — (applause) — let it be said that this generation did its part; that we too ran the race; that full of faith that our dark past has taught us, full of the hope that the present has brought us — (applause) — we faced, in our lives and all across this nation, the rising sun of a new day begun. (Applause.)

Thank you, God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

(Source: White House)

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