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Obama And The Politics Of Race

President Obama and the politics of race in America. Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy joins us.

In this Nov. 3, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama listens to a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington.  (AP)

In this Nov. 3, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama listens to a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP)

For supporters, and many others too, Barack Obama’s race marked a triumph on election night, 2008. The United States had done something millions thought they would never see. It had elected a black president.

With this nation’s hard history on race, that was an incredible moment. So, what about race and the presidency of Barack Obama? How has it played out?

Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy has taken a big look. At how the President has handled race. At how the country has handled his race.

This hour On Point: President Obama, and the politics of race now.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Randall Kennedy, professor at Harvard University Law School and author of “The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency.”

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Professor Randall Kennedy talks with On Point. (Alex Kingsbury / WBUR)

Professor Randall Kennedy talks with On Point. (Alex Kingsbury / WBUR)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Root “African Americans fight a multifront struggle in pursuing their ambitions. Along with the difficulties that others face — bad luck, personal deficiencies, talented competitors — blacks face additional obstacles. On one front they encounter prejudiced Caucasians. On another they encounter Negroes who, attached to stunted conceptions of racial solidarity, habitually castigate as disloyal blacks perceived as “acting white,” being “oreos,” “selling out.””

The New York Times “August is not half over, and already it’s been a punishing month for Barack Obama: the debt limit fiasco; the Standard & Poor’s downgrade; the deaths of Navy Seals and other troops in Afghanistan. This powerful and ruminative book by Randall Kennedy, “The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency,” is unlikely to put the president in a more cheerful mood. “

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