Obama Addresses Race Issues Directly

Scott Martelle, Gulf News (Dubai), May 1, 2007

Los Angeles: Invoking images of Los Angeles in flames, Senator Barack Obama, Democrat, Illinois, argued on Sunday—the 15th anniversary of America’s most violent modern civil uprising—that little has been done to fix the social and economic conditions that gave rise to a three-day rampage that killed at least 53 people.

And although the riots occurred in Los Angeles, the conditions that spawned them persist around the US, Obama told an overflow crowd at the First AME Church.

“There wasn’t anything going on in Los Angeles that was unique to Los Angeles,” Obama said. “If you travelled to Chicago, you would see the same young men on street corners without hope, without prospects and without a sense of any destiny other than ending up in prison or in a casket.”

Obama, speaking to an enthusiastic and overflowing crowd, drew a sustained standing ovation when he rebuked the Bush administration for funding the war in Iraq ahead of improving the lives of impoverished Americans—particularly those in minority neighbourhoods.

Half a trillion spent

“We have now spent half a trillion dollars on a war that should have never been authorised and should have never been waged,” Obama said.

“We could have invested that money in South Central Los Angeles, or the south side of Chicago, in jobs and infrastructure and hospitals and schools. Why is it we can find the money in a second for a war that doesn’t make any sense?”

Obama’s speech was the most direct address on race by any of the major presidential candidates in California for the Democratic National Convention in San Diego. And it came as the major Democratic contenders are fighting over black voters.

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