Millions are anticipating President Obama‘s address on Wednesday at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – and while it also marks five decades since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream Speech,” the president said his address will not nearly compare.
Obama sat down with radio host Tom Joyner — and co-host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show Sybil Wilkes — on Tuesday to discuss his thoughts on race, health care and education ahead of his national address, which he admits he is still working on.
“Let me just say for the record right now, it won’t be as good as the speech 50 years ago,” Obama said. “I just want to get that out there early. Because when you are talking about Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, you’re talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history. And the words that he spoke at that particular moment, with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation I think is unmatched.”
During his interview, Obama reflected on the progress the nation has made since 1963 and shared his thoughts on what he believes Dr. King would think of the current state of the nation and the changes the country has undergone in the last half-century.
“I think that Dr. King would be amazed in many ways about the progress that we’ve made,” he said. “I don’t think that he would look and say nothing has changed.”
But while Obama admits that America has made great strides in implementing equal rights laws and celebrated the great accomplishments achieved by African-Americans, it doesn’t stop there.
Nor does it stop with the nation electing a black President, he says.
“When it comes to the economy, when it comes to inequality, when it comes to wealth, when it comes to the challenges that inner cities experience, he would say that we have not made as much progress as the civil and social progress that we’ve made, and that it’s not enough just to have a black President, it’s not enough just to have a black syndicated radio show host,” Obama told Joyner.
They went on to discuss other hard-hitting topics such as the Affordable Care Act, education and Obama’s legacy — but before the interview wrapped up, Joyner wondered if Obama had seen Lee Daniels’ film The Butler and asked whether the movie made him cry.
In response, Obama plead guilty to both inquiries — and said that he enjoyed the film’s historical lessons, impressive performances and the jokes told by Cuba Gooding Jr.
“I teared up just thinking about not just the butlers who have worked here in the White House, but an entire generation of people who were talented and skilled, but because of Jim Crow, because of discrimination, there was only so far they could go,” he said. ” And yet, with dignity and tenacity, they got up and worked every single day, and put up with a whole lot of mess because they hoped for something better for their kids.”
Obama went on to say, “But all of the acting was terrific, and I thought Forest Whitaker was wonderful. And Oprah, my girl, she can act.”
Click here to read the full interview.
Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works