Obama caps two days of civil rights focus at landmark play
April 11th, 2014
08:22 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    I would love to see Denzel Washington on stage in this role. Wish I was in NYC!

    April 12, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @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."

    If you're implying that requiring photo ID makes the system more legit, honest and fair, then I ask you: Were you this concerned before President Obama was elected?

    April 12, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @Mike in Texas: ". Republicans can't win on ideas so they pass these Voter "ID" laws to make it harder for people to vote. "

    Exactly. I have long said on these boards that all of the repub/tea bag policies are proven failures. No one ever offers proof to counter that – EVER. And folks like Rant Paul have yet to point to any nation in the history of the planet where implementing the policies he promotes resulted in broad-base, sustainable prosperity and civil society.

    New gop motto: When all else has failed, CHEAT.

    April 12, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. liar of 2013

    Isnt it funny how when sillary clinton was getting ready to be yet another person having to be the scapegoat for islamabama that time about benghazi , u know when they spent are money to make a video for all the camel jockeys appoligizing for a video on youtube nobody ever saw. Then when she was going to have to answer questions she magically has to be admitted to the hospital for some terrible health problem she amazing totally recovered from after the liberal liar network CNN changed the subject like they do everytime a liberal gets caught in all there liberal lies. RAND PAUL 2016

    April 12, 2014 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    NSA is introduced by Bush in the name of Patriotic Act crafted by John Ashcroft. This Obama administration has deported more illegals than Bush, Reagan together. True, you can ran all you want because he is black, but truth not goes in-vain. What did republicans do for USA? Ignored millions of Americans Healthcare? At least ACA is a Law, passed.

    April 12, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  6. just asking

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

    so the lefty clowns want to wait until there is evidence of 'wide spread fraud' before doing anything to protect the integrity of our elections. of course, right now we have many elections being decided by a few hundred votes eithe way. the fact is you don't need wide spread fraud to affect election outcome when only a few fraudulent votes are needed.

    lies, fraud and deceit are democrat party specialties. look no further than obamacare and our liar in chief for proof of that. democrats use the same fraud during elections as well. now they have been caught using the irs and other government agencies to harass and intimidate people and keep them from participating in elections.

    April 12, 2014 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  7. Marcus (from...?)

    Tom l – Pennsylvania Voter ID Law, created to 'fight' a crime that the authorities could not prove that it had happened in the state (at least in recent elections), with all the manpower and funds to provide for its implementation deliberately CUT from the state's budget.
    Serves as an example at to what is wrong with voter ID laws as they are being propposed by the (R)s.
    You want to make everybody shows a state document with a picture at the poll?
    Provide ways and means to everybody who does NOT have that specific document yet to have his/her one made, or accept that it is a poll tax (that you don't want to receive actually...).

    April 12, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  8. Iamnotfooled

    "We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting the franchise after 50 years of expanding it," Clinton said.

    President Clinton on voting rights. He is EXACTLY right !

    April 13, 2014 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  9. Name Uche Agonsi

    This culture of racism and " animal farming" are being promoted by US Courts. One direction such action would lead to eventually, and which the Court does see is re-activating the US Democratic doctrine of power resting on the majority.

    April 13, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  10. Anonymous

    @Tom I – "It's just not logical."

    I agree that voter suppression is not logical unless you happen to be on the side that is promoting keeping people from legitimately voting because it is the only manner in which a particular side can win elections in the 21st Century.

    April 13, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. Simonzee

    Obama tells as many Tall Turkey Tales as the left wing media within and outside of America. He is an embarrasment on an international and national scale as the press protects this clown. All these closed door meetings with his media groupies is just a disgrace. And your universities keep churning out these partisan hacks as so called journalists. They are spin doctors not journalists. What about some relational ethics. I bet you they dont study this at uni.

    Obama is just race baiting here with Sharpton. He wants to energise the base that will just not bother voting for him. Again he is race baiting and it is the sign of a very, very, very grubby man. American's you deserve better than this. Just because he is hopeless and talentless he does not need to race bait? Or does he...being that bad. Black Americans consider that this is indeed a reverse form of racism. Those that divide do not unite. This guy is embarrassing. I have labelled him as the author of so many Tall Turkey Tales and he is. Enough is enough with this left wing divider of Americans.

    Blame your media and the left wing extremists that are produced out of your universities.

    April 13, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
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