Opposing Views Before Obama’s Remarks On Race, Applause All Around After

Source: Vanessa Williams / The Washington Post

In the days leading up to President Obama’s poignant, personal comments about race against the backdrop of the killing of Trayvon Martin, Janet Langhart Cohen penned an appeal to the president that ran in The Washington Post’s opinion pages urging him to address  ”the quiet rage that so many of us feel at the moment.”

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson advised Obama to do just the opposite and steer clear of the volatile issue of race, arguing that Obama is ”not the best person to lead the discussion … he might be the worst.”

Langhart Cohen, in an interview late Friday, said she was pleasantly surprised when the news broke that Obama had decided to try to explain “a set of experiences” that caused many African Americans to be angry or dejected after a Sanford, Fla., jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of the unarmed teenager.

“I was so pleased — and so stunned, because there was no announcement,” she said, referring to the president’s sudden appearance in the White House briefing room to speak to reporters, who also were surprised that he was taking on the issue. “I thought the president was powerful. I thought he was eloquent and I applaud his courage for to step forward in this very explosive situation.”

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