- IRS official refuses to answer questions at scandal hearing |
- Global stocks, oil fall after Bernanke; dollar gains |
- Oklahoma tornado victims astounded at how they survived |
- CORRECTED-White House threatens veto of bill to bypass Obama on Keystone
- British soldier hacked to death in suspected Islamist attack
Obama seeks to mend rift with black community
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama sought on Thursday to repair damage to his relationship with the black community caused by his administration's firing of an African-American government official.
A political fracas erupted last week after Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign when conservative media depicted her as anti-white because of a speech she had given.
Obama later said his administration had jumped the gun and offered Sherrod her job back after a full airing of her speech showed her remarks were taken out of context.
In a speech to the National Urban League, a major civil rights organization, Obama underscored his regret for the incident, calling Sherrod an "exemplary woman."
"She deserves better than what happened last week," Obama said. He said the episode was "a bogus controversy, based on selective and deceiving excerpts of a speech."
"Many are to blame for the reaction and overreaction that followed these comments, including my own administration," said Obama, who made history when he became the nation's first African American president.
African Americans are a key base of support Obama's Democrats hope to mobilize in the November elections, where they are at risk of losing their majorities in Congress.
The controversy further hurt Obama politically because it overshadowed his efforts to trumpet the passage of the historic financial reform bill and an extension of unemployment benefits.
The audience gave Obama a friendly reception and he made several jokes, including mentioning how his job was turning his hair gray.
Obama spoke of a theme he has emphasized in some previous appearances before black audiences: responsibility.
He devoted most of his speech to a discussion of his education reform initiative and talked about the need for holding teachers and students accountable, and also urged parents in the audience to get involved in the classroom.
(Writing by Caren Bohan; Editing by Vicki Allen)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this