Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Barack Obama delivered a passionate speech on fatherhood
today at a south side African American church, where he called on men
to take greater responsibility for their families. He spoke from the
pulpit at the Apostolic Church of God, while his wife and two
daughters sat with parishioners.

“We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at
conception. That doesn’t make you a father,” Obama said to applause
and hoots from the parishioners, “What makes you a man is not the
ability to have a child- any fool can have a child. That’s doesn’t
make you father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a

Obama, whose father abandoned him when he was two years old, said he
understands the difficulties of growing up in a single parent home. He
added that his father’s absence has taught him how to be a better
parent to his two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

“I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the
cycle, that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father
to my children; that if I could give them anything, I would give them
that rock, that foundation, on which to build their lives.”

He called on parents to instill an “ethic of excellence” in their
children, expecting them to strive for the high goals. While recalling
a brief speech that he had given to a graduating class of eighth grade
girls, Obama said he was surprised by all the “pomp and circumstance”
of the ceremony.

“It’s just eighth grade,” he said and later added, “an eighth-grade
education doesn’t cut it today. Let’s give them a handshake and tell
them to get their butts back in the library.”

He noted that many African Americans didn’t support him initially
because they didn’t believe that a black man could be elected
president. “What was interesting was how many people would come up to
me and say ‘oh Barack, we love you man, we’re rooting for you but we
just don’t think that a black man can be elected president,” Obama

“I mean we had already defeated ourselves before we even started. We
didn’t set high enough expectations for ourselves, we believed that
somebody else can do it but we can’t do it. And that filters down to
our children.”

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