Gwen Ifill Examines President’s Morehouse Speech. Her Take

Soruce: Gwen Ifill / Washington Week

The president spoke of the need for black men to be unafraid like Martin Luther King Jr., and talked about the hopeful future. But I discovered much of the subsequent commentary split along racial lines.

This is what caught my ear when the president spoke about individual responsibility: “As Morehouse men,” he said, “you now wield something even more powerful than the diploma you’re about to collect — and that’s the power of your example.”

Yet what many white analysts took special note of was when the president talked about the potential for bad outcomes. He said, ”there but for the grace of God… I might have been in prison. I might have been unemployed. I might not have been able to support a family. And that motivates me.”

On the flip side, some critics – many of them black – heard the president in the same speech say there is no time for excuses. They saw his comments as scolding.

Visit Washington Week to read Gwen Ifill’s examination of President Obama’s Morehouse commencement speech.