Daily Video

July 20, 2009

President Obama Addresses the NAACP

President Obama was the featured speaker for the 100th birthday of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP.The NAACP was formed partly in response to a 1908 race riot in Springfield, Illinois, the birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln.

Appalled at the prevalence of lynching and violence against blacks, a meeting was called to discuss racial justice. W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell were among the attendees.

The organization signed a document laying out its goal: to secure for all people the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law, and universal adult male suffrage.

Now, 100 years later, and with the first black president, the NAACP is redefining its goals and focusing on education and the criminal justice system.

This video includes and excerpt from President Obama’s speech and an interview with the new president of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous.


“I believe that, overall, there probably has never been less discrimination in America than there is today.” – President Barack Obama

“But make no mistake: The pain of discrimination is still felt in America…. by African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender; by Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country; by Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God; by our gay brothers and sisters still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.” – President Barack Obama

“You know, we have the first black president of the U.S., and yet it’s still harder for a black man with no criminal record to find a job than a white man who has one.” – Benjamin Jealous, President of the NAACP

“We need to go back to King’s letter from a Birmingham jail when he said straight up, poor black prisoners and poor white prison guards have more in common than they don’t,” – Benjamin Jealous, President of the NAACP

“The NAACP has to re-imagine itself. It has to re-imagine itself in light of the particular issues that are confronting not only black folk, but the nation….It has to teach the nation how to talk about race in the age of Obama.” – Benjamin Jealous, President of the NAACP

Warm Up Questions

1. What is the NAACP?

2. Do you think the fact that Barack Obama was elected president mean that there is no more racial discrimination in the United States?

3. How do race and class intersect in America? In your community?

Discussion Questions

1. What did you think of President Obama’s statement that “there probably has never been less discrimination in America than there is today”? What do you think he means?

2. President Obama opened up the idea of discrimination to include Latinos, Muslims and gay men and women. Do you think the NAACP should focus on these groups as well? Why or why not?

3. If you were in charge of the NAACP, what issues would you focus on? How would you choose those issues?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript



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