Not just with words...

Senator Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia has been called "historic" by some. With the benefit of a day’s reflection, I wouldn't go that far.

I must admit, though, I can’t recall an instance that race has been discussed from such a high platform without the prompting of a video-taped beating, shooting, riot, or flood. For all who believe racial injustice persists in the U.S., it must have been satisfying to hear the topic discussed at length, without platitudes, by a viable candidate for the White House. And as a response to those who would smear Sen. Obama with the unfortunate comments of his former pastor, the speech seemed to hit its mark, especially the return to his personal narrative (an important component of any national candidacy).

The success-to-date of Sen. Obama’s candidacy is truly historic, but the occasion for these remarks, the deflection of political mud, won’t warrant attention 5, 15, 20 years from now. What politicians are in a unique position to speak to, and what the speech did not cover, is government's role/responsibility in addressing the inequities among races.

I don’t mean this as a criticism; I’m only pointing to a topic that could rise to historic levels: a policy speech, not about race exclusively but certainly inclusive of it, a vision for a new (and improved) deal, a great(er) society. I'm holding out for the plan that will address injustice “not just with words but with deeds” (as Sen. Obama suggested near the 28-minute mark of this speech). Those remarks, and the accompanying actions, could command notice for all-time.

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NPR produced this story on the 75th Anniversary of FDR’s “new deal” speech, made at the 1932 Democratic Convention.

Listen to LBJ’s “great society” speech delivered on May 22, 1964.

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Denise Williams examines The Reality of Recent Religious Endorsements on AOL.

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