Obama at Selma: the true meaning of America

In his extraordinary speech at Selma this past Saturday, President Obama said something I've never heard any other American President say in forty-odd years. He lionized those who walked into this country without papers, looking for a better life. They were the "hopeful strivers," he said, part of the nobility of this country, and deserved mention with the marchers at Bloody Sunday at Selma, with James Baldwin, with Walt Whitman, with Emerson, as embodiments of "the true meaning of America."

Here's the central paragraph, this startling moment, where this thought is first heard:

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.

The whole speech is powerfully wrought and flawlessly delivered: a speech worth of our history.   

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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