March 17th, 2008
08:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama set to deliver speech on race, Wright

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Obama will deliver a speech on race and politics Tuesday."]PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Far from putting the controversial issue of race behind him, Barack Obama has decided to address the issue head on in a speech Tuesday.

"I am going to be talking not just about Reverend Wright, but the larger issue of race in this campaign - which has ramped up over the last couple of weeks," Obama told reporters in Monaca, Pennsylvania.

Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod characterized the speech, to be delivered in Philadelphia, as "a discussion on race and politics."

"Given the events of the last few weeks, Obama felt it was time to address the issue of race and politics directly, and what it means in our country," Axelrod said.

News of the speech comes days after the Illinois senator formally denounced controversial sermons delivered by his former minister and longtime friend, Jeremiah Wright. The racially-charged remarks came under fire after being the subject of an ABC News report last week.

Axelrod described the Illinois senator as "a force for reconciliation" and said he wants the opportunity "to put this into context."

Speaking with reporters, Obama said the media is portraying Wright inaccurately.

"I think the caricature that is being painted of him is not accurate, and so part of what I will do tomorrow is to talk about how these issues are perceived from within the black church community for example which I think skews this very differently."

UPDATE: Axelrod later told CNN's Gloria Borger that the Illinois senator has "always contemplated giving a speech like this."

“He will address the broader questions of race and politics, these are complex issues that transcend Barack Obama, and are fault lines in our politics and society, and, ultimately, can be a barrier…They’re easily exploited, and hard to address," he said.

(Updated with Obama comments)

- CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux and Mike Roselli contributed to this report

soundoff (296 Responses)
  1. Tom for moving on

    the media made a big deal of this. Now stop being so divisive and give the man a chance to speak.

    March 17, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. B Autry

    I want to know if the rumor I heard is right. It was told to me that Obama refused to salute the American Flag. I have liked him up until this time. If he adhears to the Koran nad not what Our Country was founded on which happens to be The Constitution of the United States.

    March 17, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. StephanTX.

    Oh yeah! Let them hear it so we can get back on track of making you the next president of the United States of America.

    Obama 08"

    March 17, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |

    As feared, foreign bond holders have begun to exercise a collective vote of no confidence in the devaluation policies of the US government. The Federal Reserve faces a potential veto of its rescue measures. Asian, Mid East and European investors stood aside at last week's auction of 10-year US Treasury notes. "It was a disaster,"

    March 17, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  5. richard, Coweta Ok

    I read one of these that said it talks about Obama's courage, vision and his intellectual, and ethical stature as a statesman. This is a crock and everyone knows it. It's all about DAMAGE CONTROL.

    March 17, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. ACV

    Wow, did not know the illiterate racist shills for Hillary knew how to use computers. Many of you seem to take offense to Pastor Wright's characterization of America as a racist country. Ummmm. . . .have any of you Neanderthals ever heard of slavery, the 3/5ths compromise, Jim Crow laws, segregation, lynchings?

    March 17, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Adam

    Remember guys, Obama addressed these issues a long time ago. However, he was 20 points down in the polls, so no one cared then.

    March 17, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. Ben

    Enough speeches, enough talking. Do something Obama. Why don't you actually accomplish something and then we can talk about hope and dreams. My bank account, my student loans, my salary, and my career are not coasting on hope, they are supported by action. So is this economy. If all you can do is run your mouth how will you be president?

    March 17, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |

    It is unsettling to watch the world's reserve currency disintegrate. Commodities from gold to oil and wheat are taking on the role of safe-haven "currencies". The monetary order is becoming unhinged.

    I doubt the dollar can fall much further. What is it to fall against? The spreading credit contagion will cause large parts of the globe to downgrade in hot pursuit – starting with Europe.

    March 17, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Len

    Obama's chickens have come home to roost. He's finished. Even if he does squeak out the nomination he has no chance in the general.

    March 17, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. Adam

    Hopefully the superdelegates will see the mess that is Barack Obama and fix this by pushing the nomination into Hillary's hands. She's our only chance of having a democratic president in Nov. Obama has blown the chance to even try and defeat McCain in the general election. The party needs to salvage what hope is left and get fully behind Hillary at this point.

    March 17, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. Sabrina

    It's amazing how easily we buy into a media's spin. Rev. Wright isn't saying anything very different from what's said in most black congregations all over the nation. And no, It's not hate, it's an acknowledgement that we are black in a very prejudice nation. We don't have to wonder about it, it's our daily reality. When he talks about American policies that have caused the world to hate us as a nation, how many white "experts" have I heard say the same thing over the years, they just said it differently. The amount of air time that has been devoted to replaying Rev Wright's speech is a prejudice ploy meant to divide and conqueor. Black America is not fooled by this. Barack Obama is as good of a democratic presidential candidate as is Hillary Clinton. This "divide and conqueor" strategy by the media and the conservatives could just keep this country in its present state for another eight years or so. The conservatives would love it – more money for them. How do you like those gas prices? How bout all those folks losing their homes to foreclosures? Like those higher prices you're getting in the grocery store? How's your health plan? Cause when we buy into the "divide and conqueor" strategies facilitated by the media, that's what we all get!

    March 17, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. fred

    Can't wait for more lies from Obama!!!

    March 17, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. Diane, Buffalo, Wy.

    What about John McCain & Rev. Hagee and Ron Parsley? No one seems to be upset about their anti-Catholic sentiment. It has definately been proven over the past few weeks that religion and politics are not good bedfellows. No wonder there is a division of Church and State.

    March 17, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. Anton

    Has Oprah donated money to Obama's church? Just wondering...

    March 17, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. End of Obama

    Obama don't ever dream that the "Pittsburgh people will be brain washed by your speeches". They are smarter than you think. Obama you are a history Pittsburgh knows it. Mayor has already endorsed Hilary.

    March 17, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Yes, We Really Can

    What a surprise, the media and Clinton force Barack to address race, and then they chastise him for doing so.

    He will win inspite of the vicious attacks.

    Obama 08

    March 17, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. Debbie

    There's an old saying..."tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are"....Obama's 20 yr relation with such a hateful "preacher"...tells me a lot about Obama

    March 17, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. Jackie

    For all the people with the '20 years' talking point from the Clinton campaign, if you are at all interested in becoming enlightened to a new perspective, you should listen without prejudice.

    Otherwise, the problem is your lifetime of a single, narrow way of looking at America.

    March 17, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. Gwen

    If Hillary wins the democratic nomination I will not vote for her in the Nov. election. I am a die-hard democrat and I despise what Bush and the republican right-wing nut jobs have done to this country.....but I absolutely refuse to vote for Hillary. For the first time in my adult life I will probably not vote in a presidential election if my only choices are McCain or Hillary.

    March 17, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. prakash chand for HILLARY

    Mr Inspirer, what next?when the truth comes out now the media is no good.

    Why dont you step down ?

    For 20 yrs this was in planning (race)?

    Flip flopper, first you say NAFTA ia bad than call canadian consulate and tell him dont worry its just politics.
    Secondly you said you will pull the troops and later you sais you will not,and you need our vote?

    March 17, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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