The president opened with a fiery civil rights talk, ticking off racial disparities, calling for greater enforcement of civil rights laws and saying that the new White House Office of Urban affairs is working to address inequality.
Obama said that the large contingent of black community leaders and elected officials was a fulfillment of a promise and generations of struggle in a country where it took nearly 100 years before the first black members of Congress were elected, and where just a century ago lynchings were part of the American experience. ...
Obama segued from civil rights into health care, ticking off what his plan calls for and borrowing a line from Martin Luther King, saying that the push called for "the fierce urgency of now."
"We have been waiting for health reform since the days of Teddy Roosevelt ... we can't wait any longer," he said as the crowd stood and clapped. "Now is the time to enact health care reform in the United States of America." ...
Turning to the economy, Obama said that his policies had brought the economy back from the brink of disaster and those that forget how bad it was had a case of "selective memory."
Yet, he said, disparities still exist and the "economic crisis has made conditions in communities of color even worse."
"For the majority of some Americans... upward mobility, for others stagnation," he said. "That kind of inequality is unacceptable...Remember all they did all so many others did to make it possible for me to be here tonight," he said referring to past African American leaders, saying that the present generation has a new task. "When the need was great and the moment was hard, we did our best to perfect our union."