By Ibrahim Dabo (@IbDabo)
Ib Talk Online Executive Editor Ibrahim Dabo reviews U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Phoenix Dinner last year and this year.
In Saturday’s speech, President Obama, while maintaining optimism, made it very clear that times are hard, and cautioned the black community to “stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying” and “march with me and press on.”
He said so many people are still hurting and many are still barely hanging on.
“And too many people in this city are still fighting us every step of the way,” Obama said.
“Times have been hard,” he said, adding that we’ve needed faith over these last couple years to overcome the challenges we face.
In an effort to get the economy moving with the creation of more jobs, President Obama in September unveiled his jobs bill proposal, dubbed the American Jobs Act, which he hopes Congress will soon pass.
“I’ve got the pens all ready. I am ready to sign it. And I need your help to make it happen,” Obama said.
He shared some positive developments by his administration, which range from investing in early childhood education and community college and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), overcoming years of inaction to win justice for black farmers, pouring money into a broken system and building on what works.
President Obama said against all sorts of setbacks, when the opposition fought his administration with everything they had, his administration finally made clear that in the United States of America nobody should go broke because they get sick.
“Today, insurance companies can no longer drop or deny your coverage for no good reason. In just a year and a half, about one million more young adults have health insurance because of this law. One million young people. That is an incredible achievement, and we did it with your help, with the CBC’s help,” Obama said.
In his final words, President Obama said: “I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on. I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do.”
This year’s speech is a little different than last year’s. The president made it very clear on Saturday that times are hard and called on the black community to join him “to press on.”
While he also acknowledged many challenges in last year’s speech, President Obama talked about many positive developments ranging from helping U.S. auto industry to become profitable again, passing health insurance reform, the role of his administration in ending combat mission in Iraq and helping Haiti rebuild following a devastating earthquake.
President Obama sounded optimistic that his administration will continue to fight off the challenges and build on its successes, though he remained cautious about timing.
“We understand it is going to take time,” Obama said. “It is not going to happen overnight.”
President Obama reiterated similar comments at this year’s Phoenix Dinner saying, “We knew at the outset of my presidency that the economic calamity we faced wasn’t caused overnight and wasn’t going to be solved overnight.”
“Throughout our history, change has often come slowly,” Obama said. “Progress often takes time.”
Time will tell what the future holds for this great nation but I think it’s important for all Americans to continue to pray for their country, its leaders and the decisions they’re making. Especially at a time when the economy is struggling to fully recover, unemployment is high and big money continues to be spent on wars overseas, the ability of leaders to work collectively toward a common goal and make solid decisions will really help determine how soon things can turn around for the better.
President Obama knows he cannot do the job all by himself. I think he made that point clear in Saturday’s speech. Over and over, the president expounded on the importance of squarely facing our national challenges while focusing our expectations on what we’re doing–really, on what we’re trying–to usher in long-term growth and prosperity for the U.S. Certainly, this will involve some adjustments in how we live, and embracing challenges as a nation we have long put off. But I believe he is on the right track.