In advance of President Obama’s trip to Selma, Alabama on Saturday to honor the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches, the president spoke with Tom Joyner on the nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show.
In the interview, which aired Friday morning, the president said, “The great thing about Selma is that it celebrates not just the famous people, but it celebrates all those folks who don’t have a name on a plaque or a statue. Everybody understands it wasn’t just Dr. King making a great speech, although I think he is an icon for the ages. It wasn’t just [about] John Lewis, although I don’t know a more courageous or sweet man than him, but I it was also just [about] people who went back to their lives after it was done.”
Mr. Obama described how he first learned about the Civil Rights Movement. “It was really [from] my mother, when I was pretty young — 6, 7, 8. She would give me children’s books about the civil rights movement or play me Mahalia Jackson songs and just give me that sense of the great inheritance that we had.”
President Obama continued, “That’s what I want to communicate to my daughters and also to the country, is this was a quintessentially American moment. America, at its best, is about its capacity for change, and not just denying problems, but taking them head on. America, at its best, is also about ordinary people, citizens, ‘we the people,’ making change.”
Listen to Tom Joyner and President Barack Obama discuss the commemoration of 50th Anniversary of the Selma To Montgomery March in the audio clip below.
The nation’s Father-in-Chief also told the TJMS crew, “Part of what I want Malia and Sasha to understand is that this is an unfinished project….we shouldn’t be complacent about it.”
When asked how would he like his daughters to finish the work started by the Civil Rights movement, President Obama said, “Everybody’s got a way to give back.”
“I’m very doubtful that they will want to run for public office [laughs]… but I want them to be engaged and involved. So if they want to do it through business, then I want them to have a business that is providing an employment and opportunity for people who might not otherwise get it.”
Mr. Obama also looks to future generations to continue the work, saying he wants his daughters to eventually “raise kids who are responsible and conscious because that is part of the work that has to be done.”