Obama caps two days of civil rights focus at landmark play
April 11th, 2014
08:22 PM ET
4 months ago

Obama caps two days of civil rights focus at landmark play

New York (CNN) – After two speeches heralding the civil rights movement and its impact on his life, President Barack Obama on Friday took in a revival of 'A Raisin in the Sun,' the landmark play chronicling racial tension on Chicago's South Side.

The drama, which entered the canon of American literature soon after its premiere in 1959, is currently running on Broadway starring Denzel Washington.

The first couple were joined earlier in the evening by Valerie Jarrett, the President's senior adviser, and her rumored boyfriend Ahmad Rashad, the sportscaster and former professional football player.

Until 2001, Rashad was married to actress Phylicia Rashad, who won a Tony Award in 2004 for her performance in an earlier revival of "A Raisin in the Sun."

The President, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, viewed the show after delivering keynote remarks to Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

In his speech Obama harshly criticized Republicans who have advanced new laws that would require photo identification to vote. Obama said the laws, which proponents say would prevent fraud, were meant to disenfranchise minorities.

He characterized the fight against the laws as a modern-day civil rights struggle.

Earlier in the week, Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library in Austin, Texas. Johnson signed the law, which outlawed for the first time discrimination in public areas, in 1964.

Obama has spoken infrequently about race during his time in office, though since being re-elected in 2012 he's begun addressing the topic more often. He spoke in deeply personal terms about the death of black teenager Trayvon Martin, and earlier this year announced a new program that aims to support young men of color.

Many suspect Obama will dedicate his post-presidency to that cause.


Filed under: Michelle Obama • President Obama
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. The right wing have lost their damned minds

    He spoke the truth in his speech!!!

    April 12, 2014 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  2. bassman

    Just Mr. Obama playing the victim...

    April 12, 2014 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    All of that is simply trying to protect his ability to commit voter fraud..........and the investigations now under way, in many places, are proving that the Dems HAVE been committing voter fraud, and that it has been orchestrated by the Democratic Party.

    April 12, 2014 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  4. just saying

    how nice.... how about caring about our civil rights? our rights not to be spied on by your nsa? how about our rights not to be targeted by our own government for our political beliefs? how about protecting the rights of real american citizens to not have their country overrun by an invasion of illegal aliens that you refuse to do anything to stop? enough of this civil rights rubbish when the rights of every american is being trampled by obama and his far left cabal of goons.

    April 12, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. jpmichigan

    One question, why is it that there is more from this administration to quickly call one a racist if one does not agree with their ideology?

    April 12, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Gunderson

    Yes, True Statement. Requiring Photo ID makes it more difficult to vote. True Statement. If you like your Health Plan you can keep your Health Plan. Period. True Statement. If you like your job you can keep, Aww, wait a minute! Now I work only 29 hours. How am I going to survive!

    April 12, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. smith 1

    well the repo trolls out in force on this website. What about me and you did this too ,Have become the mantra of the republican party. They sound like spoiled children. Any half way intelligent person can see that the changes to voter rights are just to make people jump through hoops to vote. Cutting voting days or hours > How does that prevent voter fraud. Besides what fraud are we talking about. So few cases have been found that it laughable the repos keep trying to use this as a reason. The only people buying this BS is the stupid right wing voters.

    April 12, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Anonymous

    @smith 1

    It's the old law in search of a problem. There is no widespread voter fraud. I believe it was the North Carolina Governor who said it was widespread and undetected. The right believes that they don't have to prove something exists, they just say well you can't prove it doesn't. Then they call it a Voter ID law, to make it seem like all they are doing is requiring an ID to vote. Wrong. They require specific ID's. In Texas you can use a concealed weapon card but not a student ID. Also, as others such as Rudy in NYC and Sniffit have posted, they are cutting budgeting on the offices that would provide ID's. In Texas someone one may have to drive hours to get the correct ID or pay to get a copy of a birth certificate. Ad in voter purging, shorter early voting time, banning same day registration/voting, high school and college registration drives, etc. The demographics are changing and they don't favor Republicans. The only way they can keep control is by suppressing the vote. They want to make it so difficult to vote people will give up. In didn't work in 2012 and it won't work going forward.

    April 12, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. Mike in Texas

    @ smith 1

    It doesn't prevent fraud. It suppresses the vote. The more people that vote, the better for Democrats. Republicans can't win on ideas so they pass these Voter "ID" laws to make it harder for people to vote. They cry voter fraud which is so miniscule at best. They are laws in search of a problem. Let's pass a law to prevent a non existent problem so it doesn't ever become one.

    April 12, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. Tampa Tim

    just saying
    hillary clinton has already proven she is at least as incompetent as obama with her failed tenure at the state dept. no achievements in 4 years, one supposed russian reset accomplishment that has turned out to be a disaster, $6 billion dollars missing and four dead americans she refused to help and then lied about.

    anybody willing to put somebody this incompetent in the white house truly hates this country.
    --
    The incompetent was in the White House, but now lives in Dallas. $6 billion was lost on W's watch, almost 3000 lives lost on 9-11-2001 under Bush, 4500 American soldiers lost their lives in Bush's wars, 43,000 soldiers wounded in Bush's wars, $2 trillion lost in Bush's wars, record job loss in 2008, and the Great Recession. That is incompetence.

    April 12, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. Hector Slagg

    Holy Ballot Box Stuffing1
    Lyndon Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948 by stuffing the ballot boxes. National voting is every 2 years. Anyone that wants to vote will take the time and trouble to get registered. If it's too much trouble don't come crying to me. You will have to make some effort. Because of the peasants running the asylum we have a nearly 18 Trillion dollar federal debt. Don't look now but the Titanic is disappearing beneath the waves. There is probably very little voter fraud these days. But eternal vigilance is the only way to keep it that way. Educating the peasants is another problem altogether.

    April 12, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. smith

    Why would anybody want to be against making a system legit,honest, and fair? Maybe its so they can be dishonest, unfair, and cheat.

    April 12, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @bassman: "Just Mr. Obama playing the victim..."

    Yeah, right he's a real "victim" ... raised by a single mother, did the hard work of dealing with the loss of his father, worked hard in school, spent three years working as a community organizer (having a real and direct impact of people's lives), was elected as a State senator, then U.S. Senator, then campaigned for two years to become the first black U.S. President, took on the worst economic crisis our nation has seen since the Great Depression and has overseen a slow but steady recovery (including straights months of private sector job growth since May 2010), got us out of Iraq, gave the kill order to Osama bin Laden, is getting us out of Afghanistan, has acted (not just paid lip service to) supporting our troops and veterans, etc., etc., etc. .... all of this while his political opponents fight tooth and nail to hold him and his policies back, EVEN THOUGH THEY HURT OUR COUNTRY.

    The only "victim" in this scenario is YOU – who'd rather blame your troubles on the President that admit the gop/tea bags are the ones harming our country, playing you for a fool and getting you to vote against your own self-interest time and time and time and time again.

    April 12, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Gunderson

    Well,
    Let's be honest about it. There are some people that if they have 10 things they want done, and all of them are done to their complete satisfaction, the next day they will have 10 more things they want done. We have Civil Rights coming out our ears.
    But some want to hang on to Slavery, Segregation, racisim, bigotry, etc. Because when all those things are gone they are lost with nothing to complain about.

    April 12, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. J Anthony

    Anyone who believes Obama and co are "far-left" anything are kidding themselves. He may talk progressive, but he governs corporate-centrist. If idiots like just saying actually paid attention and didn't get all their info from the right-wing nut-job media, they'd know this.

    April 12, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. rs

    Anonymous
    @smith 1

    It's the old law in search of a problem. There is no widespread voter fraud. I believe it was the North Carolina Governor who said it was widespread and undetected. The right believes that they don't have to prove something exists, they just say well you can't prove it doesn't. Then they call it a Voter ID law, to make it seem like all they are doing is requiring an ID to vote. Wrong. They require specific ID's. In Texas you can use a concealed weapon card but not a student ID. Also, as others such as Rudy in NYC and Sniffit have posted, they are cutting budgeting on the offices that would provide ID's. In Texas someone one may have to drive hours to get the correct ID or pay to get a copy of a birth certificate. Ad in voter purging, shorter early voting time, banning same day registration/voting, high school and college registration drives, etc. The demographics are changing and they don't favor Republicans. The only way they can keep control is by suppressing the vote. They want to make it so difficult to vote people will give up. In didn't work in 2012 and it won't work going forward.
    ------
    Nice analysis. This then proves the delusionalism of the GOP. "We face an unseen and undetectable yet widespread conspiracy that we must preemptively do battle with- and it just so happens that those people we must stop from voting, vote for Democrats".
    See, these folks are either delusional, or completely without scruples. Either way, America loses- and about 4 million people don't get to vote.

    April 12, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. Tom

    No voter fraud? Laughable unless dead people really rise to vote.

    April 12, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  18. emskadittle

    where is the evidence of widespread voter fraud, there is none!

    April 12, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. 2_indy1600

    Great play; I remember discovering it rather late in life. Remember taking my cousin to dances in Texarkana when young, where blacks weren't allowed, and separate drinking fountains and bathrooms still stood in the late 1950's when Raisin In The Sun came out. Have to say, though, the 1950's called, and they want their racism back. Things are different, and I'd like to see an updated version of the play.

    April 12, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Tom l

    I agree with smith. I just can't for the life of me understand what is wrong with asking for an ID to vote and make sure everything is legitimate. It's just not logical.

    To those that try and claim a "poll tax", surely there could be a reasonable compromise. In fact, I believe that the law in NC provided for free voter ID cards. There has to be some other motive behind finding it unreasonable to require proof of who you are when you are given a ballot

    April 12, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  21. What's in that Tea Anyway?

    Does it amaze anyone that folks like "Just Sayin, Gunderson, and others" can disparage the president as being the cause of this nation's problems i.e. slavery and the Great Recession (?) Think logically, this country is only 50 years removed from it's most contentious years of racial animus, that's not even a full generation. Yet, you've got the intellectually numb telling us this isn't even an issue worth discussing "and or the president is playing the victim again" Good luck having these folks as part of an intelligent discussion. SMH

    April 12, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  22. Name. willard

    Keep out afrcian amercian with fraud check scam

    April 12, 2014 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. don in albuquerque

    Gunderson

    Starting out any of your statements with "Let's be honest" is kinda hilarious from the beginning. The rest of your post is again not really sage, but more trash.

    April 12, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  24. liar of 2013

    This guy is so arrogant and obnoxious i want to vomit looking at him listening to him or read about him. DISGRACE. Romney told the truth. 47%. He could get caught in a terrorist involvement and all his racist africants woulf still vote for hom and all his libtard woman who need him to be there baby daddy for freeloader handouts because no man wants wacko libtard woman. Funny now islamabama only has 40% approval now hes for equal pay for woman, minimim wage hikes. The dumb libtards are so silly they believe him even though he pays woman at the whitehouse less than men, what a looser hypocrit. Hey Hispanics how you like that hopie changie 3 million deportations under obama. You voted this muslim in so ha ha lol im glad. BUSH helped hispanics your to easily influenced and believe these LIAR LIBTARDS. USE YOUR BRAIN THIS TIME AND VOTE RAND PAUL 2016

    April 12, 2014 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @Tom l: "I agree with smith. I just can't for the life of me understand what is wrong with asking for an ID to vote and make sure everything is legitimate. It's just not logical."

    FACT: You folks on the right never thought this was a pressing issue until President Obama was elected. He motivated and mobilized a constituency that you'd rather not deal with – and it drives you NUTS!

    April 12, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
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