Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., walked by a painting depicting an American Indian yesterday after an appearance at the UNITY '08 Convention in Chicago.
Obama notes ‘tragic’ US past
American history's "sad" aspects require action, the senator tells cheering journalists
CHICAGO » Sen. Barack Obama, speaking to a gathering of minority journalists yesterday, stopped short of endorsing an official U.S. apology to American Indians but said the country should acknowledge its history of poor treatment of certain ethnic groups.
"There's no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we've got some very sad and difficult things to account for," Obama told hundreds of attendees of UNITY '08, a convention of four minority journalism associations.
The Hawaii-born senator, who has told local reporters that he supports the federal recognition bill for native Hawaiians drafted by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, noted other ethnic groups but did not mention native Hawaiians when answering a question about his thoughts on a formal U.S. apology to American Indians.
"I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged," the Democratic presidential hopeful said.
"I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds."
Obama, who appeared tired in his first major appearance since returning Saturday from a 10-day trip abroad, met with a receptive audience at the Chicago convention. Some journalists had waited three hours for the 40-minute appearance.
The group had expected Obama and Sen. John McCain to speak on Thursday night, but because of scheduling conflicts, only Obama could attend yesterday morning's talk.
When Obama walked on stage at the McCormick Center, many journalists in the audience leapt to their feet and applauded enthusiastically after being told not to do so. During a two-minute break halfway through the event, which was broadcast live on CNN, journalists ran to the stage to snap photos of Obama.
The Illinois senator talked about his trip overseas, reiterating his opinion that violence is down in Iraq but worsening in Afghanistan. And he expressed his approval of the Senate's passage of a major housing bill to help homeowners avert foreclosure.
Obama, who acknowledged that he needed a nap, stood up to say farewell to the audience of journalists, many of whom gave him another standing ovation.