Obama addresses Journalists of Color coalition

Would administration issue an apology to Native Americans?

Chicago, Illinois (http://eurweb.com - ICC)

Sen. Barack Obama told minority journalists July 27 that affirmative action is still needed in the U.S., even if he is elected the nation's first African American president this fall.

But, the presumptive Democratic nominee added that it must be structured so that it is not just a quota system.

"We are becoming a more diverse culture, and it's something that has to be acknowledged," he told an audience attending the UNITY convention in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

He added: "I've also said that affirmative action is not going to be the long-term solution to the problems of race in American because, frankly, if you've got 50 percent of African-American or Latino kids dropping out of high school, it doesn't really matter what you do in terms of affirmative action. Those kids are not getting into college.... There have been times where affirmative action has been viewed as a shortcut to solving some of these broader, long-term, structural problems."

(Three vidoes are presented off front page)

 

Q: Would your administration issue an apology to native Americans for the atrocities they've endured for the past 500 years?

I personally would want to see our tragic history or the tragic elements of our history acknowledged. When it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of colour in this country, we’ve got some very sad and difficult things to account for ... I want to set up an annual meeting with them and make sure a whole range of these issues are addressed.

The most important thing for the US government to do is not just to offer words, but to offer deeds. When you look at the situation on tribal lands, by every socio-economic indicator, Native Americans are doing worse than every other group - education, unemployment ... I have to confess I am more concerned about delivering a better life.

Obama said minority kids with wealthy parents should not be given greater consideration for college, for example, than "a poor white kid who has struggled more."

He also expressed reservations about making reparations to Native Americans, African Americans and other groups for past deeds. "The best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people that are unemployed," Obama said.

The Illinois senator also blasted Republican challenger Sen. John McCain for a position he took earlier Sunday in support of a proposed ballot initiative in Arizona proposed by Ward Connerly that would prohibit affirmative action policies from state and local governments.

McCain, who made his remarks on ABC's "This Week," has previously called similar efforts "divisive," although he has also consistently expressed opposition to hiring quotas based on race while supporting affirmative action in limited cases.

"I am disappointed that John McCain flipped," Obama told CNN Sunday before the UNITY gathering began at the McCormick Place convention center. Obama said the ballot initiatives like the one being considered in McCain's home state are "all too often designed to drive a wedge between people."

Civil rights vet Al Sharpton expressed similar sentiment about McCain's remarks, calling them "a stunning reversal on his respectable record on affirmative action."

"Though America has made progress, as even the conservative United States Supreme Court has made clear, we are not at a place where we can not set goals for inclusion," Sharpton said in the statement. "We in National Action Network feel that class, gender and race should be in the formula and even some modification could be done. We however feel this divisive and counterproductive ballot initiative now supported by Senator McCain is not the way to seek common ground on this issue."

 

"Apologies to Native Americans?... Health and Education" Part I
 
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"Not being a Muslim and anti-Muslim sentiment... Affirmative Action" Part II

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"Back from Iraq, Afghanistan"

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