President Obama’s remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus included a call for the CBC to help him pass the American Jobs Act:
President Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs. I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children. I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. I don't have time to complain. I am going to press on.
I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We've got work to do, CBC.
The admonition to “stop complaining” struck Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles as “a bit curious” since she and other members of the CBC have been holding job fairs in their districts and have been trying to rally the base to help Obama win re-election. Waters said Obama would have never told the Hispanic Caucus or the gay and lesbian community to “stop complaining.”
Waters was asked about remarks she made at an earlier summit with Reps. Karen Bass and Laura Richardson during which she asked the community if they wanted to “unleash us” to push Obama on Black issues.
Waters tells CBS that she thinks Obama “heard” them because he used the words “Black” and “African American” for the first time. I am not able to verify if this is the first time – but certainly it is not the first time that Black leaders have felt that Obama has spoken to them differently. Some people think that this is a generation issue between Obama and the older civil rights era leaders. But frankly, respect is respect and both candidate and President Obama seem to shrug that off at times. Take for instance, how in 1990 LGBT and AIDS checkbook activist Diane Abbitt declared at a fundraiser that she would no longer contribute to any candidate that did not use the words “gay” and “lesbian” when appealing to the LGBT community for donations. That is now the lowest of litmus tests. So while this is a difficult re-election for progressives disappointed in Obama, it may be even more difficult for African Americans who expected – and hoped for – even more from America’s first Black president.