Full Transcript: Exclusive Obama Interview

I mean, those connections are made in the black community. And so part of what we have to do is, on the one hand, the African-American community has to say to itself -- and this is our job -- it is to say that we can affirm and acknowledge that tragic history, but not be trapped by it, not be obsessed by it, not use this as an excuse or a crutch for our responsibilities in moving ourselves forward as a community, and individuals taking responsibility for their own success, and walking through the doors of opportunity that have been busted open for us.

On the other hand, white America, I think, has to take the time to say, "You know what? That history is powerful and painful. And I understand that, because of that history, there remain profound inequalities in this country and we as a country have an obligation to deal with them. It's not just something that we can shove aside or sweep under the rug."

And if those two transformations in attitudes could take place, we're still going to have conflicts, there are still going to be differences, but we can make progress.

MORAN: Do you really think you can do this, that your candidacy can help to change the racial dialogue, the way we deal with race?

OBAMA: Well, I was very clear in the campaign -- you know, I've never been so naive as to think that one election cycle or, as I put it, my candidacy, as imperfect as it is, could somehow change entirely 300 years of history.

I think, instead, this campaign offers an opportunity for America to think about some of these issues and engage them in a more honest way. But that's just one of the opportunities.

I mean, hopefully, what I'm trying to do in this campaign is to do the same thing that maybe I was able to do about race, to talk about the economy or talk about our foreign policy or talk about our obligations to each other with that same sense of a complex truth, you know, not simplifying things, not sound-biting things, seeing if we can dig, scratch a little deeper.

MORAN: There's a political risk for you here, though, isn't there? By embracing race, you might become the race candidate. And that's a limiting…

OBAMA: Absolutely. And so, you know, hopefully this is something that we have talked about, we've lifted up, it will spur discussion, like Robert Kennedy's wonderful metaphor, "ripples of hope." You know, you throw a rock into a pond and those ripples will go out.

We don't know where those ripples will go. I have no idea how this plays out politically. But I think it was important to do. And in a couple of days, I'll be talking about Iraq and national security, back on the trail.

MORAN: One more. You mentioned your wife, Michelle's, heritage in this speech. What kind of advice has she given you on these matters?

OBAMA: You know, Michelle and most of my black friends I think were much more confident and calm about me giving this speech. My white friends and advisers were much more nervous.

MORAN: Why? What's the difference?

OBAMA: I think that -- you know, the African-American community deals with this, grapples with this in ways that the white community just doesn't. I mean, I think this makes the larger society nervous and it's easier to disengage from it. I think there are a lot of African-Americans who would love to be able to not worry about race, but somehow it encroaches upon them.

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