07
Mar
15

The President’s Selma Speech

****

by Jacqueline

The Bridge to Everywhere

This day, many hadn’t come
But all that was for naught
Because no one really noticed.
Those who came could have
Closed their eyes and still felt
The singular beauty of the place.
Could have still heard the silenced voices
Of the old warriors, and could have
Heard the sound the old bridge made
With the wind softly moving through it
And the shoes passionately walking over it
All voices still silent.
See and hear the beauty of the place
Look out into the rivers of time
Touch each other in
Warm embrace
And feel the beauty of the day.
The remarkable memories it brought
Were enough. I wouldn’t change a thing.
No need to change the name of the bridge, either
That bridge belongs to everyone and no one, anyway.

****

****

President Obama:

It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.

Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning fifty years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind. A day like this was not on his mind. Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about. Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked. A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones. The air was thick with doubt, anticipation, and fear. They comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:

No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.

Then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, a book on government — all you need for a night behind bars — John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.

[tweet https://twitter.com/repjohnlewis/status/574304057378078720 align=’center’]

President Bush and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Members of Congress, Mayor Evans, Reverend Strong, friends and fellow Americans:

There are places, and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war — Concord and Lexington, Appomattox and Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character — Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.

Selma is such a place.

In one afternoon fifty years ago, so much of our turbulent history — the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher — met on this bridge.

It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America.

And because of men and women like John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. King, and so many more, the idea of a just America, a fair America, an inclusive America, a generous America — that idea ultimately triumphed.

As is true across the landscape of American history, we cannot examine this moment in isolation. The march on Selma was part of a broader campaign that spanned generations; the leaders that day part of a long line of heroes.

We gather here to celebrate them. We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching toward justice.

They did as Scripture instructed: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” And in the days to come, they went back again and again. When the trumpet call sounded for more to join, the people came — black and white, young and old, Christian and Jew, waving the American flag and singing the same anthems full of faith and hope. A white newsman, Bill Plante, who covered the marches then and who is with us here today, quipped that the growing number of white people lowered the quality of the singing. To those who marched, though, those old gospel songs must have never sounded so sweet.

In time, their chorus would reach President Johnson. And he would send them protection, echoing their call for the nation and the world to hear:

“We shall overcome.”

What enormous faith these men and women had. Faith in God — but also faith in America.

The Americans who crossed this bridge were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, and countless daily indignities — but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.

What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible; that love and hope can conquer hate.

As we commemorate their achievement, we are well-served to remember that at the time of the marches, many in power condemned rather than praised them. Back then, they were called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse — everything but the name their parents gave them. Their faith was questioned. Their lives were threatened. Their patriotism was challenged.

And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place?

What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people — the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many — coming together to shape their country’s course?

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?

That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience. That’s why it’s not a museum or static monument to behold from a distance. It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents:

“We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

These are not just words. They are a living thing, a call to action, a roadmap for citizenship and an insistence in the capacity of free men and women to shape our own destiny. For founders like Franklin and Jefferson, for leaders like Lincoln and FDR, the success of our experiment in self-government rested on engaging all our citizens in this work. That’s what we celebrate here in Selma. That’s what this movement was all about, one leg in our long journey toward freedom.

[tweet https://twitter.com/AVAETC/status/574310474394787841 align=’center’]

The American instinct that led these young men and women to pick up the torch and cross this bridge is the same instinct that moved patriots to choose revolution over tyranny. It’s the same instinct that drew immigrants from across oceans and the Rio Grande; the same instinct that led women to reach for the ballot and workers to organize against an unjust status quo; the same instinct that led us to plant a flag at Iwo Jima and on the surface of the Moon.

It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what’s right and shake up the status quo.

That’s what makes us unique, and cements our reputation as a beacon of opportunity. Young people behind the Iron Curtain would see Selma and eventually tear down a wall. Young people in Soweto would hear Bobby Kennedy talk about ripples of hope and eventually banish the scourge of apartheid. Young people in Burma went to prison rather than submit to military rule. From the streets of Tunis to the Maidan in Ukraine, this generation of young people can draw strength from this place, where the powerless could change the world’s greatest superpower, and push their leaders to expand the boundaries of freedom.

They saw that idea made real in Selma, Alabama. They saw it made real in America.

[tweet https://twitter.com/HaroldItz/status/574310213240680448 align=’center’]

Because of campaigns like this, a Voting Rights Act was passed. Political, economic, and social barriers came down, and the change these men and women wrought is visible here today in the presence of African-Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus to the Oval Office.

Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for African-Americans, but for every American. Women marched through those doors. Latinos marched through those doors. Asian-Americans, gay Americans, and Americans with disabilities came through those doors. Their endeavors gave the entire South the chance to rise again, not by reasserting the past, but by transcending the past.

What a glorious thing, Dr. King might say.

What a solemn debt we owe.

Which leads us to ask, just how might we repay that debt?

[tweet https://twitter.com/MsPackyetti/status/574298477208932353 align=’center’]

First and foremost, we have to recognize that one day’s commemoration, no matter how special, is not enough. If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done — the American experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each generation.

Selma teaches us, too, that action requires that we shed our cynicism. For when it comes to the pursuit of justice, we can afford neither complacency nor despair.

Just this week, I was asked whether I thought the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report shows that, with respect to race, little has changed in this country. I understand the question, for the report’s narrative was woefully familiar. It evoked the kind of abuse and disregard for citizens that spawned the Civil Rights Movement. But I rejected the notion that nothing’s changed. What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic, or sanctioned by law and custom; and before the Civil Rights Movement, it most surely was.

We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, or that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing’s changed in the past fifty years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or L.A. of the Fifties. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed. Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago. To deny this progress — our progress — would be to rob us of our own agency; our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.

Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that racism is banished, that the work that drew men and women to Selma is complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes. We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true. We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character — requires admitting as much.

“We are capable of bearing a great burden,” James Baldwin wrote, “once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is.”

This is work for all Americans, and not just some. Not just whites. Not just blacks. If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination. All of us will need to feel, as they did, the fierce urgency of now. All of us need to recognize, as they did, that change depends on our actions, our attitudes, the things we teach our children. And if we make such effort, no matter how hard it may seem, laws can be passed, and consciences can be stirred, and consensus can be built.

With such effort, we can make sure our criminal justice system serves all and not just some. Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on — the idea that police officers are members of the communities they risk their lives to protect, and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland just want the same thing young people here marched for — the protection of the law. Together, we can address unfair sentencing, and overcrowded prisons, and the stunted circumstances that rob too many boys of the chance to become men, and rob the nation of too many men who could be good dads, and workers, and neighbors.

With effort, we can roll back poverty and the roadblocks to opportunity. Americans don’t accept a free ride for anyone, nor do we believe in equality of outcomes. But we do expect equal opportunity, and if we really mean it, if we’re willing to sacrifice for it, then we can make sure every child gets an education suitable to this new century, one that expands imaginations and lifts their sights and gives them skills. We can make sure every person willing to work has the dignity of a job, and a fair wage, and a real voice, and sturdier rungs on that ladder into the middle class.

And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge — and that is the right to vote. Right now, in 2015, fifty years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood and sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, stands weakened, its future subject to partisan rancor.

How can that be? The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic effort. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President Bush signed its renewal when he was in office. One hundred Members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right it protects. If we want to honor this day, let these hundred go back to Washington, and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore the law this year.

Of course, our democracy is not the task of Congress alone, or the courts alone, or the President alone. If every new voter suppression law was struck down today, we’d still have one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples. Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap. It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life. What is our excuse today for not voting? How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future?

Fellow marchers, so much has changed in fifty years. We’ve endured war, and fashioned peace. We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives, and take for granted convenience our parents might scarcely imagine. But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship, that willingness of a 26 year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five, to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.

[tweet https://twitter.com/harrybelafonte/status/574312417989017600 align=’center’]

That’s what it means to love America. That’s what it means to believe in America. That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.

For we were born of change. We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people. That’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction, because we know our efforts matter. We know America is what we make of it.

We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea — pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, entrepreneurs and hucksters. That’s our spirit.

We are Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man and then some; and we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth. That’s our character.

[tweet https://twitter.com/cdurlak/status/574312481402789888 align=’center’]

We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free — Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan. We are the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because they want their kids to know a better life. That’s how we came to be.

We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.

We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent, and we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, Navajo code-talkers, and Japanese-Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied. We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, and the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are the gay Americans whose blood ran on the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge.

We are storytellers, writers, poets, and artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.

We are the inventors of gospel and jazz and the blues, bluegrass and country, hip-hop and rock and roll, our very own sounds with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.

We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head, and stealing home in the World Series anyway.

We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of, who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.”

We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American as others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for it. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing; we are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day. You are America. Unconstrained by habits and convention. Unencumbered by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be. For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, and new ground to cover, and bridges to be crossed. And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.

Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person.

Because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can. It is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished. But we are getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect. But we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge. When it feels the road’s too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example, and hold firmly the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”

We honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar. And we will not grow weary. For we believe in the power of an awesome God, and we believe in this country’s sacred promise.

May He bless those warriors of justice no longer with us, and bless the United States of America.


187 Responses to “The President’s Selma Speech”


  1. 1 Betsy
    March 7, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Amazing speech

      • 3 Betsy
        March 7, 2015 at 5:46 pm

        Hi Chips. I gotta say, as a US history teacher, this speech is one for the ages. I tear up over and over again at how much history was in it and how PBO wove it throughout the speech. I am not as articulate as so many on this blog, so I’ll stop here. Amazing speech. I love President Obama.

        • 4 GGail
          March 7, 2015 at 6:19 pm

          Hi Betsy and Congrats on First! It’s good to see you 🙂

          • 5 Betsy
            March 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm

            Good to see you to GGail. Are you enjoying our mini heat wave here in So Cal?

            • 6 GGail
              March 7, 2015 at 6:28 pm

              Oh so very much Betsy! How ’bout you?

              Every time a SoCal person identifies themselves, I would like to extend the invitation to join me, jojo, purpleshoesla, and Tally at our next TOD SoCal get-together. Keep you eyes peeled for the next notification. Would love to have you meet up with us!

              • 7 Betsy
                March 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm

                I’d love to!

                • 8 GGail
                  March 7, 2015 at 6:32 pm

                  Betsy, that’s EXCELLENT!
                  You’ll have to give Chips permission to give one of us your email address so we can have you in the decision making process of where to meet. I think our next gathering will be in July or June – I’ll be sure to post a notice here.

              • 10 Carolyn
                March 8, 2015 at 5:29 am

                Hi Gail! I live in SoCal, too, and would love to join you all in your next TOD get-together. I adore our Prez and would really enjoy being with like-minded “folks,” as PBO would say. I’ll keep checking back for more details as summer nears. This is a wonderful blog!

      • 11 MightyPamela
        March 7, 2015 at 5:57 pm

        Chipsticks! YOU are one for the Ages! And our beloved NerdyWonka… Two great Souls leading the rest of us along… showing the way toward Truth. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! ❤ ❤

      • March 7, 2015 at 6:07 pm

        thank you for this page….sooo amazing….i keep using this word…but there is no other way to describe…i am sooo full of emotion….i am so forever grateful to the Obama Coalition ..who worked so very hard to elect one Barack Hussein Obama…not once but twice…..we are truly blessed …truly blessed

    • 14 MightyPamela
      March 7, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    • March 7, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Simply Amazinggggggg….Awe inspiring

  2. 16 cookemom
    March 7, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    What a Day!

  3. 17 Betsy
    March 7, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I was in tears over and over again. I really like so much of it, but was blown away by the voting rights portion.

  4. March 7, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    What a quick turnaround, Chips!!! Beautiful post. Thank you!

  5. March 7, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Brilliant!
    Best ever!
    Amazing!
    Powerful!

  6. 20 MightyPamela
    March 7, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Yes.

  7. March 7, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    So this is floating around the internet….

  8. 23 carolyn
    March 7, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    President Obama is a poet. His speeches are not mundane prose, they soar in poetry. Few have this gift…..poets see beyond what many of the rest of us see…….his “moral imagination” resonates and quivers with light.

    Once again PBO was right…..this time re: Bibi. How many people were howling for him to do something dramatic to stop him, to insist no Democrats attend the speech, to stop him at landing…….of course he did none of these. He continued working for us with his quiet competence and dignity, not engaging in the petty, but looking toward today…….and the Bibi nonsense is dust. Dan Pfeiffer said when they would disagree with him, he was right. Again…..!!!

  9. 26 PoliticalJunkessa
    March 7, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    What an epic post of an epic speech, Chips! Beautifully done, Maestra. Thank you!!!!

  10. March 7, 2015 at 6:00 pm

  11. 29 MightyPamela
    March 7, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    One could almost see the light come on for W: ‘Oh, so THIS is what a President does’. (Almost.)

  12. 30 GGail
    March 7, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    OMG Chips! Fifty years from now, people will be able to come to theobamadiary.com archives and view this beautiful Post of this historic day.

    I humbly thank you Chipsticks ❤

    • March 7, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Yeah, but you called me a bugger!1!1!

      • 32 GGail
        March 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

        😀 :D:D 😀
        Is that still on your mind?

        I’m sitting here eating popcorn while reading and viewing this beautiful Post and I scrolled down here to find this comment from YOU! ROFL!!!

    • 35 mtmarilyn
      March 7, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      So true GGail. Where else has anyone been able to really know all that this President has done. I am so thankful for the TOD community. We are what We have been waiting for.

      • 36 GGail
        March 7, 2015 at 6:24 pm

        Yes, Marilyn, and it’s all because one young woman said to herself, “I can do better than what I’m forced to partake in” and she started her own blog…

        She has enriched, educated, and enlightened so many and brought oooodles of laughter to the masses!

        • 37 susanne
          March 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm

          beautifully said ggail. i’m gobsmacked as always at the extraordinary reporting here, the good hearts and minds that congregate here, and the amazing person who made this happen. okay, yes, president obama is the inspiration, but chips is the moving hands that shape this place, and we who come here will always treasure this gift.

  13. 38 Beaglemom
    March 7, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    President Obama’s speech was absolutely beautiful and full of profound truths.

  14. 39 Linda
    March 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    CNN is stalking Hillary Clinton. She just spoke at the CGI and they think she may take questions…..so they keep switching over to it.

    hahaha

    back to cspan 3. click

  15. 43 Nerdy Wonka
    March 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Fantastic, fantastic, FANTASTIC post, Chiparoooo!

  16. 44 africa
    March 7, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Wow. This speech. I can’t get enough.

    Chips, thanks for giving me the words to read over and again.

  17. 46 africa
    March 7, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    My late night reading tonight.

  18. March 7, 2015 at 6:20 pm

  19. 50 jacquelineoboomer
    March 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    The Bridge to Everywhere

    This day, many hadn’t come
    But all that was for naught
    Because no one really noticed.
    Those who came could have
    Closed their eyes and still felt
    The singular beauty of the place.
    Could have still heard the silenced voices
    Of the old warriors, and could have
    Heard the sound the old bridge made
    With the wind softly moving through it
    And the shoes passionately walking over it
    All voices still silent.
    See and hear the beauty of the place
    Look out into the rivers of time
    Touch each other in
    Warm embrace
    And feel the beauty of the day.
    The remarkable memories it brought
    Were enough. I wouldn’t change a thing.
    No need to change the name of the bridge, either
    That bridge belongs to everyone and no one, anyway.

  20. March 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Funniest thing today….

    My favorite news anchor on planet earth is @SKYLukwesa, even if she works for Murdoch’s Sky UK.

    Whenever I’ve watched her introduce a piece on PBO, I compleeeeetely sensed she *loved* him, while trying to remain cool, calm and professional.

    Any way, today she followed me, we shared a couple of fun DMs, her TL is lovely, she ADORES him!!!

    🙂

  21. 80 sabreen60
    March 7, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. My copied tweets use to post.

  22. 81 Vicki
    March 7, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Chips thank you for this perfect post. I really loved reading PBO’s words and savoring them again. Today will be the start of a renewed campaign to restore and extend voting rights, I hope.
    Sen. Coons had the right idea. I read he was lobbying for signatures on his VRA.

  23. 89 Nena20409
    March 7, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Chips! Chips! Chips! Hooray!
    What a labour(UK) of Love this post is.
    You are a Gem, lady Chips.
    Well Done, Lady. 🍸
    Thanks 29,820,084 Times 😉

  24. March 7, 2015 at 6:34 pm

  25. 94 Nena20409
    March 7, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    J’OB…..Lady Poet at TOD!
    So beautiful and cool ……your poetry.

  26. 95 forus50
    March 7, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Chips, the way you put this historic speech to pictures in this post is beyond beautiful. Thank you.

  27. March 7, 2015 at 6:41 pm

  28. 99 JER
    March 7, 2015 at 6:45 pm

  29. 100 4morefor44
    March 7, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    o.m.g. the photos…just can’t…

    will have to watch the speech later. wow.

  30. March 7, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    and the Beat goes On..

  31. 102 carolyn
    March 7, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you Chips for posting the speech, and in such beautiful form. As I read it, I realized what this speech is: it is an epic poem as great as Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey, or Dante’s Divine Comedy or Milton’s Paradise Lost. Yes, it is literature on the level of those, and will be studied by literature and history students, and any one wanting to learn about American history.

    PBO is the best writer alive today. And…….also, one of the best preachers!!!!

  32. 104 JER
    March 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    • 105 SUE DUVALL SMITH
      March 7, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      THOSE CHAIRS WON’T STAY EMPTY…THE SPIRITS OF THE PAST BRIDGE WARRIORS WILL SIT THERE……………:)

  33. March 7, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    • March 7, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      They stand there as the President and First Lady of the United States. If only those who fought so hard could just travel through time and see that, our black President and First Lady of the United States. .

      • 108 Sandy1110
        March 7, 2015 at 8:18 pm

        My father passed back in October, but I was glad he lived to see PBO elected twice. My mother passed in 2003. She would have LOVED him!

        I wish all of POTUS/FLOTUS’ parents could have lived to see them.

  34. 109 JER
    March 7, 2015 at 7:00 pm

  35. 110 ouapiti
    March 7, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    thank you, Chips and TODers, for wonderful posts and commentary on this outstandiIng day. I have never been prouder of our President, and more proud to have him as President — and that is saying a lot!

  36. March 7, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Congrats on first Betsy!!

    Dearest Chips, you’ve created a remarkable tribute to President Obama’s “21st Century I have a dream” speech. Thank you and thank you for creating the TOD community which you and NW nourish every single day.

    Dearest Jacqueline – you move me. You are an artist – words as your medium. Let us hope they see it.

    #TrustBarack

  37. 124 4morefor44
    March 7, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    sorry, but need a quick vent…why on earth is the murderous bush family there soiling this incredible event?!?! was jimmy carter there? bill clinton? those two can at least lay some claim to caring about these issues. bush was sending thousands to their deaths UNNECESSARILY and in the same breath joking with “no w.m.ds over here” and “now watch this drive.” and having cake while an entire black section of a major u.s. was under water with bodies floating through the streets. you think he cares about selma and everything it stands for?!? OF COURSE NOT!

    he and his robot wife were there for one thing only – rehab the bush name to help jebbie. and notice how “the news” is doing exactly that. disgusting.

    sorry, i just need to release. now back to the greatness of the obama family and this historic moment today. need to go watch our president’s speech!

    • March 7, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      Dear 4more, I’m as repulsed by the sight of GWB as you, however, in this case his presence is justified. He signed the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act (something neither Pres Clinton or Carter were ever involved).

    • March 7, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      I was torn in two on this today 4More, there’s no public figure I despise more for all the death and misery he has inflicted on the planet, but I was completely puzzled by him turning up at this. I can’t see any personal gain for him, he’s done, does he, after all, have a smidgeon of decency???

      • 129 SUE DUVALL SMITH
        March 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm

        JESUS CHRIST WOULD WORK THIS WAY…IT’S CALLED GRIT YOUR TEETH AND MOVE ON…I DIDN’T LIKE IT EITHER BUT I THINK THIS MAN IS LOOKING FOR REDEMPTION. HE’S NOT VERY SMART…CHENEY USED HIM.

      • 130 susanne
        March 7, 2015 at 7:25 pm

        am i a complete cynic to think his family sent him to set up a narrative favorable to jeb?

        • March 7, 2015 at 7:26 pm

          Oh heck, me and my empty head…… didn’t think of that.

          • 132 susanne
            March 7, 2015 at 7:36 pm

            sorry– i do believe he believes he’s a good guy, and i also know he’s been manipulated throughout his public life.

        • 133 Sandy1110
          March 7, 2015 at 8:49 pm

          If that’s true, it will backfire, as Jeb is apparently out there parroting the “Obama doesn’t love America” b.s.

          They never listen. He told them he’s a counterpuncher; now they look even more like idiots when they spout the RW idiocy.

      • 134 4morefor44
        March 7, 2015 at 7:27 pm

        the last couple years has seen incredible amounts of bush name rehabilitation by “the news” and republicans, all designed so jeb can be the next to try, and i think today for the bushes was simply about that. got that off me chest and now going back to the spirit of the day, which is easy to do with all your incredible efforts here. thank you!!!

    • 135 pkayden
      March 7, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      I kind of agree with you. I’m not pleased that any Republican was there. They can stay home since they have no respect for the Voting Rights Act or for civil rights in general.
      However, President Obama was gracious to President Bush on this occasion, so I’ll be the same.

      • 136 carolyn
        March 7, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        George W. is one of my least favorite people. His eight years were a true disaster, and I was surprised he was going to be in Selma, but I learned the reason why. I can say one thing for him: he did not try to upstage PBO. He did not stand in front of him, make his silly faces, or anything distracting. For that I was grateful. I actually thought about Bill C., and how, if he had been there, he would have tried to make it all about him, and stepped to the forefront with his big wave. So, there’s that.

        And PBO always rises above whatever is tried. He did exactly the right thing with Bibi’s visit… went on about his work, ignored Bibi, worked on this day and yesterday in South Carolina, brushed Bibi off his shoulder, and now Bibi is dust, people are protesting against him, and PBO is the colossus astride the world.

  38. March 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm

  39. March 7, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Disappointing how Pete Souza seems to be winding down now, he doesn’t tweet photos very often, he usually just posts arty – but lovely – ones on Instagram, and he only updates the Flickr account occasionally. Wish he’d get back to posting photos daily, hope he’ll have some soon from Selma.

    • 142 0388jojothecat
      March 7, 2015 at 7:29 pm

      Our energizer bunny PBO has warn out poor Pete. I bet Pet retires after inauguration day Jan 2017. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • 143 Roberta in MN
      March 7, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      Didn’t Pete get married not too long ago? Maybe he is still trying to balance the two.

  40. 144 cookemom
    March 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    I could only pop in and out today, but I want to thank you Chips for the dynamic pictorial coverage of today’s historic event.

    I didn’t get to read many comments, but Donna your story was so heart-wrenching. It reminded me of Bill Wither’s song, “Grandma’s Hands”

    Jackie, your poem is so poignant, yet inspiring. Words spoken in a voice that so captures what is the climate in our ‘Selma’ today.

    Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up with the last 7 Obama Diaries today, but either way, they’ll be will be bookmarked forever, from the Rise and Shine edition this morning to this current thread, .

    Hat tip to all the TODster family on this great day!

  41. 148 SUE DUVALL SMITH
    March 7, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    I MIGHT CHECK IN LATER…HAVE TO SET ALL THE CLOCKS FORWARD FOR AN HOUR AND GET READY FOR CHURCH TOMORROW…GOING TO TAKE A CHAIR WITH ME TO FIGHT THE LIONS..THERE WILL BE ALOT OF UPSET REPUGNANTS IN THERE…..I AM NEVER GOING TO FORGET THIS DAY!…I LOVE MY PRESIDENT…STAGE LEFT…GRASP DOORKNOB…BLESSINGS ALL!

    • 149 HZ
      March 8, 2015 at 12:12 am

      Sue, I love your sweet and beautiful spirit. You have a most insightful spirit about you that is so refreshing and encouraging to me.
      {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ Thank you beautiful soul.}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}HZ

  42. March 7, 2015 at 7:37 pm

  43. 155 taiping1
    March 7, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks so much for the posting of full text and photos as well as JOBoomer’s beautiful poem. What I so love about our President is that he is always so graceful, hopeful, and full of faith in our power as a people to change, to move toward the world as it ought to be. Remember that was what so Michelle Obama remarked upon when she first attended a community meeting organized by Barack Obama. He talked of not settling for the way things are but always working for the way things ought to be. He, like President Lincoln, speaks to the better angels within us. Even the Washington press cynics Fournier and Cilizza commented on this as a speech for the ages.

  44. March 7, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    This has been such an emotional, gratifying day. Chips, thank you so very much for these astonishing threads. I’m so grateful to be a witness to these events in my lifetime. And to see just how beloved our First Family is in this bright light. XOXO

  45. March 7, 2015 at 7:44 pm

  46. March 7, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Let me thank George and Laura Bush for having the decency to show up today.

  47. March 7, 2015 at 7:50 pm

  48. 166 PoliticalJunkessa
    March 7, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    They need to rename the bridge. Perhaps the John Lewis Bridge.

  49. March 7, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Great pics Chips.

    As always you rock!

  50. March 7, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I was watching CNN and as President Obama sat there waiting to be introduce to go speak, I saw when the First Lady reach over there to hold his hand.

  51. March 7, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Jesus, I actually followed this creature

  52. March 7, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    It almost feels like Inauguration Day.

  53. March 7, 2015 at 8:02 pm

  54. 179 vcprezofan2
    March 7, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Chips!                                                 Thanks!                                                 {{{{ChipsChica}}}}

  55. 180 sjterrid
    March 7, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Chips, thank you so much for highlighting President Obama’s whole speech with the photo’s from Selma today. I wasn’t able to hear the speech, so I was happy that I was able to read it. This is one to be treasured.

    Jacqueline, thank you for your poetry. It was beautiful.

    Now to go back up to read the comments.

    Good evening, TOD.

  56. March 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I’m going to just savor the next two years to the max – because I know that whoever the next President is – being he/she Republican, Democrat or Indy, is not going to come remotely close to PBO….

  57. 186 rikyrah
    March 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Chips, you and your team did a fantastic job today.
    THANK YOU 🙂

  58. 187 HZ
    March 7, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Chips, I love you so much!. You give so much to us and I feel your respect and love for President Barack Obama. That is why I love all of you also. You recognize a loving brilliant mind in President Barack Obama and in our Chips. This beautiful day here gave me so much encouragement for the future. Thank you beautiful and brilliant poetess J’OB. Your words just lift themselves off the page and move in so many beautiful ways in my heart. {{{{{{Thank you, J’OB}}}}}HZ

    My love to my Chips for giving us the honor to all be here as a beautiful family alongside our great President. {{{{{{{{{ Love my TOD family}}}}}}HZ


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