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Obama NAACP speech

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Written on 4:49 PM by yahoo

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(CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama's speech Monday night to the NAACP will mark a historic first: An African-American presidential nominee of a major party will be addressing the nation's oldest civil rights organization.

Sen. Barack Obama will emphasize the "responsibility deficit" in a speech to the NAACP on Monday.

Sen. Barack Obama will emphasize the "responsibility deficit" in a speech to the NAACP on Monday.

According to the presumptive Democratic nominee's campaign, Obama will talk about a "responsibility deficit" that extends from Washington to Wall Street, and even to the way Americans raise their children.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will address the NAACP on Wednesday.

In a speech last year to the NAACP, Obama said there's "more work to do," when there are more black men in prison than in college, and African-American leaders say Obama must combine that message with the "self-help" message he has focused on the black community.

"I think the NAACP would like to hear Sen. Obama talk about personal responsibility, but also as president how he would put some of their issues on the national agenda, as well," said Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a member of the Democratic National Committee.

Obama's speech in Cincinnati will also highlight a new generation of black leadership forged not in the civil rights battles of '60s and '70s, but during subsequent decades in which many African-Americans made great strides culturally, politically and economically, but many more remained economically disadvantaged.

Obama himself -- the son of a black father and a white mother -- has acknowledged that his candidacy is in large part due to the struggles of previous generations of black leaders. But he has avoided being labeled an African-American candidate, saying he wants to appeal to all racial and ethnic groups. That has led some to question whether Obama is focusing enough on the needs of the black community.

The generational divide was in full display last week when the Rev. Jesse Jackson, an African-American leader who has long held a place on the American political stage, expressed his frustration with Obama in a comment after an interview on Fox News.

As Jackson was talking to a fellow interviewee, an open microphone caught him whispering, "See, Barack's been talking down to black people. ... I want to cut his nuts off." The remark came days after a Father's Day speech in which Obama chastised black fathers for not doing enough for their children.

Jackson said the "talking down to" statement was triggered by Obama's call for personal responsibility, especially when Obama talked about the need for black fathers to participate in the raising of their children. Obama himself grew up in a single-parent home after his father left.

Jackson explained his "anguish" over Obama's comments by pointing to unemployment, home foreclosures and violence in the black community. "So we have some real serious issues, not just moral issues," that require real investment that "faith-based initiatives" cannot provide, Jackson said. Obama has made faith-based initiatives part of his campaign platform.

Jackson's own son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois -- co-chair of Obama's presidential campaign -- publicly blasted his father's comments Wednesday. "His divisive and demeaning comments about the presumptive Democratic nominee -- and I believe the next president of the United States -- contradict his inspiring and courageous career," the younger Jackson said.

The elder Jackson later apologized for what he called "crude and hurtful remarks." Obama spokesman Bill Burton said said the Illinois Democrat "of course" accepted Jackson's apology but said the senator "will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves."

After Jackson's comments, talk show host John McLaughlin on Sunday raised some eyebrows when he suggested that Obama may fit the stereotype of "an Oreo, a black on the outside, white on the inside," and that Jackson may be angry at Obama because "an Oreo should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle which Jesse Jackson spent his lifetime fighting for."

But last week, Jackson, who himself ran for president in 1984 and 1988, denied that he felt any envy toward the younger leader.

"That's kind of ridiculous. He's running the last lap of a 54-year marathon. He is running that race. I am a part of that race," Jackson told CNN.

CNN contributor Roland Martin said the controversy sparked by Jackson's and McLaughlin's comments is part of "the internal conversation that is taking place in black America and white America. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with the dialogue."

"The issue, frankly, is not, well, is [Obama] an Oreo, does he fit the stereotype," Martin said. "It points to are we operating in a different mind, different generation than what we saw 30, 40, 50 years ago."

Jack Johnson, a political columnist and a news correspondent for Black Entertainment Television, said the NAACP may already be embracing that new mind set, which focuses on economic and social justice issues rather than the civil rights struggles of the past. He noted that Benjamin Todd Jealous, a 35-year-old Oxford-educated activist, will become the association's new president September 1.

cnn

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