February 12th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
15 years ago

Bush talks race relations

WASHINGTON (CNN) - During an election year notable for the diversity of the Presidential candidates that include Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, whose father is from Kenya, and former candidate Arizona Gov. Bill Richardson, whose mother is Hispanic, President Bush today both touted progress on race relations in the United States and reminded Americans the country still has a long way to go.

Amid the festivities at the annual White House event celebrating African-American history month, President Bush condemned what he called a symbol of suffering, the noose.

"The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice," President Bush stated. "Displaying one is not a harmless prank."

Explaining its history, the President said the noose played a central part in a campaign of violence and fear against African-Americans. In stark terms, Bush described how African-Americans were terrorized for decades saying, "Fathers were dragged from their homes in the dark of night before the eyes of their terrified children. Summary executions were held by torchlight in front of hateful crowds."

The President's comments come after a recent wave of racially charged stories, including a noose display in the Jena Six case, a noose found on the door of an African-American professor at Columbia University, and comments by a Golf Channel anchor, who joked that Tiger Woods competitors might want to "lynch him" in order to win. The anchor later apologized.

At Tuesday's event, Bush said that "lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest. As a civil society, we should understand that noose displays and lynching jokes are deeply offensive. They are wrong. And they have no place in America today."

President Bush also honored four people who contributed to African-American history, including civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis and former Secretary of Transportation William Coleman, the first African-American cabinet member of a Republican administration.

Reflecting on their accomplishments, the President expressed hope for continued progress on race relations in America, saying, "...in the example of the leaders like those we honor today, we see strength greater than any division."

- CNN White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Disenfanchised

    Bush has his moents when I actually like him.

    February 12, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  2. John Riverside, CA

    Well....better late than never, huh President Bush.

    After seven years of nothingness, you finally took the time to recognize minorities. That legacy is getting closer and closer. It's a shame that the American people see right through your charades.

    February 12, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. HalloiPalloi

    You know, it's really messed up that the Republicans are coming out against racism in America, while certain a certain democrat's surrogates seem to be AGAIN emphasizing our differences based on skin color.

    That's the one good thing you can say about Bush – he doesn't see a black female vote getter – he just sees a Secretary of State.

    February 12, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  4. Patrick

    Well said President.

    February 12, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  5. di

    i have always liked bush,s candour and truthfullness you may hate the iraq war but you will never hate him as a person he speaks straight. its the irony of our times that republican president is stressing racial equality and the governor of pennsylvania who is a democrat is not.

    February 12, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Donte

    Bush is a moron; but he aint no racist!

    February 12, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  7. Carressa, Florida

    Wow this is about the smartest thing that he has said during his entire administration. Maybe his rating will go up beyond the 30%

    February 12, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  8. The truth

    Fear is coming out, and freedom is coming in.

    February 12, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  9. Charles

    I'm like the first guy. Bush really does have his moments, and if he'd spent more of his presidency having moments like this instead of flashing his blue blanket while screaming "I'm the Decider" on Iraq, I think history might be a little kinder to him.

    February 12, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  10. John Lopez

    Gov. Richardson is from NEW MEXICO!

    February 12, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |