Obama to NAACP: Blacks must seize responsibility

ByABC News
July 15, 2008, 5:42 AM

CINCINNATI -- Barack Obama pressed his call Monday for African Americans to take more personal responsibility for their children and within their communities in a speech to the NAACP that directly confronted the complaints of Jesse Jackson about Obama's approach to problems affecting blacks.

Obama, the first African American to clinch a major party's presidential nomination, could not have chosen a more deliberate forum for his remarks than the 99th convention of the nation's largest civil rights organization.

"We got to demand more responsibility from Washington and we got to demand more responsibility from Wall Street, but you know what?" said Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee. "We also have to demand more from ourselves.

"Now, I know there's some who've been saying I've been too tough, talking about responsibility," he went on. "At the NAACP, I'm here to report I'm never going to stop talking about it." He told the crowd that "no matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose or how many government programs we launch none of it will make a difference, at least not enough of a difference, if we don't seize more responsibility in our own lives."

His remarks about responsibility, which came toward the end of his speech, were greeted by growing applause and cheers. By the end, the crowd was on its feet when he held out the prospect of returning next year to address the group's 100th convention as president.

Obama has addressed larger audiences during this year's campaign and other audiences that were enthusiastic, but he may have never addressed a group to whom his presidential candidacy had deeper meaning than the NAACP. Three thousand delegates filled the hall at the downtown Duke Energy Convention Center with room for another 1,400 in an overflow room.

"This is history in the making," said Annie Burton, 49, of Texas City, Texas, wearing an Obama T-shirt and Obama beret. "This is once in a lifetime."