Ana DuVernay’s movie Selma tells the inspirational story of a coalition of activists, young and old, students and ministers, local and national, radicals and respectables who, despite their differences came together three times in the spring of 1965 to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and confront state police intent on enforcing racial segregation. Viewers and reviewers want to know more about all the people surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr.: Dr. King’s right hand in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Ralph Abernathy and SNCC’s John Lewis. They want to know about the shooting death of Jimmie Lee Jackson by a state trooper as he was defending his mother from a police beating. People want to know about women in the movement, about Selma community organizer Amelia Boynton and the young girls who also took part.
So the recent flap over the role of President Lyndon Baines Johnson during this pivotal point of the civil rights movement distracts us not only from the historical truth, but does the further disservice by (once again) trying to make white people the center of the black freedom struggle. Joseph A. Califano, Jr. goes so far as to suggest that LBJ should be remembered as the “white savior” who suggested the march, rather than as a president who tried to stop it as the film portrays. (That dubious honor goes to John F. Kennedy who tried to shut down the 1963 March on Washington.)
In a New York Times interview, Dave Eggers mentions Malcolm Garcia: “there’s a writer named J. Malcolm Garcia who continually astounds me with his energy and empathy…I’ve been following him wherever he goes.”; New York Times
“One of the wonders of coming back to NOTES after such a long time is how “current” Baldwin is. That might sound like a cliché but in so many instances in our lives we learn that some clichés are built on things solid and familiar and timeless. “Journey to Atlanta” is but one of a hundred examples in NOTES. What also comes across, again, is how optimistic James Baldwin was about himself, his world, black people. Even when he describes the awfulness of being black in American, he presents us with an optimism that is sometimes like subtle background music, and sometimes like an insistent drumbeat. But through it all, with each word– perhaps as evidence of a man certain of his message – he never shouts.” From the new introduction by Edward P. Jones (Pulitzer Prize The Known World)
Focusing on 18 pivotal speeches from the campaign -- from then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama's October 2002 speech against the Iraq war resolution to his November 2008 election night victory speech -- Berry and Gottheimer put each speech in the context of Obama's ultimate journey toward the presidency, while also revealing details about the behind-the-scenes thought and preparation that went into each.
Along the way the authors emphasize two fundamental -- and ultimately interconnected -- values that have motivated Obama throughout his public career and that we have seen at play during his first term as president.
The first is his abiding belief that governing is most effective when we transcend the discord and partisanship of "politics as usual" to reach a bipartisan unity of purpose and new way of approaching our nation's challenges. The second is his fundamental belief in the power of government to help us solve problems and meet challenges that we cannot deal with on our own.
Although, as the authors note, this view of government takes its most expansive form in Obama's "The American Promise" speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in Denver in August, 2008, you can see the roots of his thinking all the way back to the Knox College commencement address he delivered in June 2005, barely six months after being sworn in as the junior senator from Illinois:
How does America find our way in this new, global economy? What will our place in history be?
Baker goes on to look at how the tension between the parties since the election has hampered Obama's vision of America's place int he world.
Once President, though, he was confronted by a quartet of challenges: (1) a Republican party that decided the path to political victory was to double down on partisanship, (2) a mobilized and well-funded Tea Party chorus preaching limited government (except when it comes to one's own government benefits), (3) the Fox-Beck-Limbaugh echo chamber that not only preached limited government, but labeled government acting to promote the general welfare as un-American, and (4) an effective corporate lobby that was able to turn mainstream, private-sector oriented health insurance reform into government sponsored death panels.
Faced with this barrage, President Obama and his allies have not been able to sell the American people on the bedrock principle that government is a force for good in our country.
That sale can be made.
In Power in Words, Berry and Gottheimer add a rich introduction for each speech that includes political analysis, provides insight and historical context, and features commentary straight from the speechwriters themselves—including Jon Favreau, Obama's chief speechwriter, and several other Obama campaign writers—delivering the behind-the-scenes account of Obama's rhetorical legacy.
Follow the jump for videos of some of the speeches and an excerpt from Power in Words.
Michelle J. Richard is Assistant to the Associate Publisher and Rights and Publicity Assistant at Beacon Press.
President Barack Obama and Angela Richard
Imagine my surprise this past Sunday afternoon when my mom called me with "I shouldn't be telling you this over the phone but I'm just bursting from the excitement!" replacing her "Hello."
She launched into a detailed back story, and although I had no idea what news she was getting ready to spill, I could feel myself becoming giddy. Fantasies of lottery millions or free island getaway vacations decorated my mind.
"Barack Obama is coming to our house!"
So then I said, ok no really – tell me what’s going on.