Despite ‘Enormous Strides,’ Minorities Still Face Barriers, President Says

Despite ‘Enormous Strides,’ Minorities Still Face Barriers, President Says

The New York Times

John Hurdle and Peter Baker

SCRANTON, Pa.President Obama declared on Friday that the United States had made “enormous strides” in race relations since the March on Washington 50 years ago, but said “institutional barriers” for African-Americans and other minorities still existed and must be overcome.

Speaking at a town hall-style meeting at Binghamton University in New York, Mr. Obama said that even though there was less overt discrimination in modern society, the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow continued to afflict many in America. He said the economic troubles of recent years had exacerbated divisions across racial and class lines.

“Fifty years after the March on Washington and the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, obviously we’ve made enormous strides,” Mr. Obama said in response to a question from a professor of African-American studies. “I’m a testament to it. You’re a testament to it.” He added that “we know that some discrimination still exists, although nothing like what existed 50 years ago.”…

…As the nation’s first black president, Mr. Obama occupies a singular place in this anniversary moment, the culmination of a half-century of struggle and a symbol to people around the world about the progress in America. And yet he has tried to rebut arguments that his own success meant that the country had graduated beyond race.

Mr. Obama plans to host a reception at the White House on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the march, and then on Wednesday he will speak from the Lincoln Memorial, as Dr. King did a half-century ago. His comments at Binghamton offered a preview of sorts of some of the themes he may raise…

Read the entire article here.