(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama's speech Monday night to the NAACP will mark a historic first: an African-American presidential nominee of a major party will be addressing the nation's oldest civil rights organization.
The speech by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in Cincinnati will also highlight a new generation of black leadership forged not in the civil rights battles of '60s and '70s, but during subsequent decades in which many African-Americans made great strides culturally, politically and economically, but many more remained economically disadvantaged.
Obama himself - the son of a black father and a white mother - has acknowledged that his candidacy is in large part due to the struggles of previous generations of black leaders. But he has avoided being labeled an African-American candidate, saying he wants to appeal to all racial and ethnic groups. That has led some to question whether Obama is focusing enough on the needs of the black community.
The generational divide was in full display last week when the Rev. Jesse Jackson, an African-American leader who has long held a place on the American political stage, expressed his frustration with Obama in a comment after an interview on Fox News.