I wasn’t able to watch President Obama’s speech in Selma, but a friend encouraged me to read the transcript, and I’m glad I did.
On the most obvious level, his remarks address the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the continuing challenge of achieving justice and equality in America. But, at least for me, it is even more powerfully a speech about patriotism. These are wonderful paragraphs:
What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals . . .
That’s what it means to love America. That’s what it means to believe in America. That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.
The whole speech is worth reading as an addition to the canon of great statements about race and as an eloquent, moving rebuke to those who have questioned this President’s love of country.