News / USA

For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issuei
X
August 19, 2014 2:36 AM
The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue
Luis Ramirez

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding.

The time for healing for which President Barack Obama hopes has yet to arrive in Ferguson.

Interrupting a vacation, the president returned to the White House Monday and met with Attorney General Eric Holder, the man spearheading the administration's efforts to independently investigate the shooting of a young unarmed black man by a white police officer.

At a briefing, the president called for understanding.

“To a community in Ferguson that is rightly hurting and looking for answers, let me call once again for us to seek some understanding rather than to simply holler at each other. Let's seek to heal rather than to wound each other.  As Americans we've got to use this moment to seek our shared humanity that's been laid bare by this moment,” said Obama.

In a bid to find the truth, the family of the 18-year-old victim requested a preliminary autopsy.

And another autopsy, by a federal medical examiner, has been ordered by Attorney General Holder as part of an administration effort to shed light on the truth and restore calm. 

For Obama, it's a personal issue. Following the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, another unarmed black teenager shot in a racially charged incident, the president spoke of how he sees race relations in his country.

“There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping at a department store.  That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happened to me, at least before I was a senator,” said Obama.

With infant mortality and incarceration rates higher, and income and education levels lower, than non-blacks, Professor Greg Carr, head of Afro-American Studies at Howard University, said there hasn't been any real fundamental change in race relations in the U.S.

Regardless of the color of the occupant of the Oval Office - certainly with President Obama in office and Attorney General Eric Holder, there perhaps is an expectation that there may be more swift action taken to resolve some of these issues or to at least deal with some of the issues in real time. However, that expectation is tenuous because we understand that Barack Obama is not the president of black America as he frequently reminds us, he’s the president of the United States of America,” said Carr.

President Obama announced he's sending the attorney general to Ferguson to meet with investigators who are carrying out the independent federal probe that's under way.

The president says he hopes the truth will be what eventually brings peace to Ferguson and allows the country to move beyond this bout of racial tensions.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs