From Farai

Barack Obama on NPR ... And a Teeny Weeny Shared Past

Sen. Barack Obama on Reparations for Slavery

Farai Chideya

Farai Chideya interviews Sen. Barack Obama from the NPR West studios. Geoffrey Bennett, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Geoffrey Bennett, NPR

So we had a great time talking to Senator Barack Obama. And we were ... relieved.

What I mean is that the staff of News and Notes knows that not every interview comes through. So you might say, "We will have Blah-dee X. Blah on..." before a break. And then during the break, B-X-B gets stuck in the bathroom, or in traffiic, or has food poisoning.

As a matter of fact, earlier this week, Sen. Obama's staff almost gave us a heart attack when they said he might have to fly back to Washington for a vote on the Senate floor — on the same day we were scheduled to interview him in Detroit.

But still, we stepped out on faith and asked you to give us questions for the Senator. And you answered our call ... in droves.
Check it out.

We even had to stop calling for questions.

But please read them. They're a wonderful reflection of democracy in action. And the Senator was gracious enough to answer three — two of which we had time to get on air. The other can be heard online.

We also marked a first for News & Notes: Our Web producer, Geoffrey Bennett, videotaped me conducting the interview — though, to be honest, you won't see footage of the Senator answering my questions from Detroit. (We aren't at that point yet; we are still radio, after all.)

But, we want to thank you for giving us some great questions. Honestly, I'm just just glad you're there. We are here because you listen, and talk, and, yeah, sometimes you send us angry letters. But we do appreciate the feedback.

I had a chance to meet Barack Obama way back, when he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review (HLR) and I was a work study student there.

We were a funny crew at the HLR offices. And although the law students were on the other side of some invisible divide, I suspect from what I read now, as Barack Obama is a public commodity, that they were a family too ... fighting (uh, law students!) .. and yes, probably loving each other and fighting like brothers and sisters.

For example, I was fascinated by this testimony from a conservative Republican colleague, Carol Platt Leibau, who was there during Obama's tenure at the HLR. She writes in part:

I complimented his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and then, for some reason, felt it necessary to remind him that my praise was qualified by the fact that "of course I don't agree with any of your policies." With that, Barack simply threw back his head and laughed. Can anyone imagine Hillary Clinton, John Kerry or Howard Dean reacting that way?

So ... again, weigh in. We want to know what you think about our interview, the Senator and your hopes for the 2008 presidential election. We've extended invitations for interviews to all of the 2008 presidential candidates, so we'll be looking to you again for questions.



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I enjoyed the interview with Sen. Obama and find myself looking forward to the upcoming elections.I vote in every election but, must say this is the most excited I have been since my first time voting back in 1988.I never put stickers on my vehicles but I will have an "Obama in 08" sticker this year.

Sent by Steven Melton | 1:30 PM | 7-13-2007

After listening, I too think I have found a candidate that I can stand behind. I am especially taken by his prescient statement prior to the invasion of Iraq. He's got a lot of bad work to undo.

Sent by Thomas | 3:25 PM | 7-13-2007

Senator Obama missed an opportunity to provide his insights into the variables that are crucial to the success of our young people. While it is true we need better education facilities and equipment, and better teachers with smaller class sizes, and more opportunities for growth, he failed to mention the critcal importance of personal responsibility in choosing a path and staying focused. Also, worth mentioning is parental responsibility in guiding our children towards discipline and committment to learning and growing as a person and a contributing member of our society. External things are not the answer; internal qualities and characteristics can overcome a multitude of external deficiencies.

Sent by Thomas Parker | 12:15 AM | 7-14-2007

As a young black male I am overjoyed to hear the hope message and to hear a black presidential candidate speak about issues that are not just for the black community but for the good of all Americans. As an American I am more concern about the issues of our country and very interested in solving problems in the world thru diplomacy and not military force.

Sent by Joseph O. Montgomery | 9:44 AM | 7-16-2007