Obama, Clinton Reflect on Selma's Lengthy Shadow

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Democratic senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama courted black voters today with speeches in Selma, Ala., on the 42nd anniversary of the Selma March — a civil rights demonstration that ended in violent confrontation with police. We hear excerpts of speeches.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

And now we return to the top story of the hour and take a few minutes to hear extended excerpts from today's speeches in Selma, Alabama by Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Here's Senator Obama speaking at the Brown Chapel, A.M.E. Church.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois): A lot of people have been asking well, you know, your father was from Africa. Your mother's a white woman from Kansas. I'm not sure that you have the same experience, and I try to explain it, you don't understand.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. OBAMA: You see, my grandfather was a cook to the British in Kenya. He grew up in a small village, and all his life that's all he was, was a cook and a houseboy, and that's what they called him even when he was 60 years old. They called him a houseboy. And he have to carry a passbook around because Africans in their own land, in their own country at that time, because it was a British colony, could not move about freely. They can only go where they were told to go. They could only work where they were told to work.

ELLIOTT: Obama turned next to the importance of education.

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. OBAMA: And if we don't start instilling a sense in our young children that there is nothing to be ashamed about in educational achievement, I don't know who taught them that reading and writing and conjugating your verbs was acting white; we've got to get over that mentality.

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. OBAMA: We got to do for ourselves. That's part of what Moses generation teaches us. Stop saying to ourselves we can't do something but telling ourselves that we can achieve. We can do that.

(Soundbite of applause)

ELLIOTT: Senator Hillary Clinton drew applause as well. She spoke at Selma's First Baptist Church.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): Dr. King told us our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. CLINTON: Well, I'm here to tell you poverty and growing inequality matters, health care matters, the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans matter, our soldiers matter, our standing in the world matters, our future matters and it is up to us to take it back, put it into our hands. Start marching toward a better tomorrow.

(Soundbite of applause)

ELLIOTT: Senator Clinton closed her speech with these words.

Sen. CLINTON: The brave men and women of Bloody Sunday did not lose heart. We can do no less. We have a march to finish.

ELLIOTT: Democratic presidential hopefuls Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama marking the anniversary of the voting right march in Selma today.

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