Barack Obama delivered one of his great speeches today.
NEW YORK - President Barack Obama on Thursday traced his historic rise to power to the vigor and valor of black civil rights leaders, telling the NAACP that the sacrifice of others "began the journey that has led me here." The nation's first black president bluntly warned, though, that racial barriers persist.
"Make no mistake: The pain of discrimination is still felt in America," the president said in honoring the organization's 100th convention.
White House aides said the President had been working on the speech for two weeks. Obama urged African-Americans to be realistic about some of the difficulties they may face, but to remember that "your destiny is in your hands."
"We've got to say to our children, Yes, if you're African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that someone in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. That's not a reason to get bad grades, that's not a reason to cut class, that's not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school," he said. "No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands - and don't you forget that."
"No excuses. No excuses," Obama added, verging off his prepared remarks. "You get that education. All those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes, we can."
Watch the complete speech:
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