On Senator Harry Reid’s comments during the campaign that Barack Obama could become the first African American president because he was “light skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” President Barack Obama told TV One’s Roland Martin the following:
Harry Reid is a friend of mine. He has been a stalwart champion of voting rights, civil rights. He’s spent a lot of his political capital in the middle of an election to provide health care to every American, and that’s going to have a great impact on African-Americans, Latinos around the country. This is a good man who’s always been on the right side of history. For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me, and for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense. He apologized, recognizing that he didn’t use appropriate language, but there was nothing mean-spirited in what he had to say and he’s always been on the right side of the issues. The fact that we spend days on this instead of talking about the unemployment rate or talking about how we deal with critical issues like energy an health care is an indication of why I think people don’t understand what’s happening in Washington. I guarantee you the average person, white or black, right now is less concerned about what Harry Reid said in a quote in a book a couple years ago than they are about how are we going to move the country forward. That’s where we need to direct our attention.
Roland Martin’s one-on-one interview with President Obama will air in its entirety on special primetime edition of TV ONE’s “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” on January 18 at 8PM ET.