Helen Whalen Cohen

In an address at their annual awards ceremony dinner last night, Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus that his new jobs bill will help ease black unemployment (currently at 16%). He told the members to quit complaining and 'put on your marching shoes'.

 

"It gets folks discouraged. I know. I listen to some of y'all," Obama told an audience of some 3,000 in a darkened Washington convention center.

But he said blacks need to have faith in the future -- and understand that the fight won't be won if they don't rally to his side.

"I need your help," Obama said.

The president will need black turnout to match its historic 2008 levels if he's to have a shot at winning a second term, and Saturday's speech was a chance to speak directly to inner-city concerns.

He acknowledged blacks have suffered mightily because of the recession, and are frustrated that the downturn is taking so long to reverse. "So many people are still hurting. So many people are barely hanging on," he said, then added: "And so many people in this city are fighting us every step of the way."

But Obama said blacks know all too well from the civil rights struggle that the fight for what is right is never easy.

"Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your maching shoes," he said, his voice rising as applause and cheers mounted. "Shake it off. Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'. We are going to press on. We have work to do."

Topping the to-do list, he said, is getting Congress to the pass jobs bill he sent to Congress two weeks ago.


Helen Whalen Cohen

Helen Whalen Cohen is Associate Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com.