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Obama killing it on education in his NAACP speech.

(CNN) -- One hundred years after the birth of the NAACP, the civil rights group welcomed the first African-American president.

President Obama spoke before the annual convention Thursday night in New York, the city where the organization was founded.

"What we celebrate tonight is not simply the journey the NAACP has traveled, but the journey that we, as Americans, have traveled over the past 100 years," Obama told the crowd.


The excitement over Obama was in stark contrast to the reception of former President Bush, who had a strained relationship with the NAACP and declined the group's invitations for five years.

Bush spoke before the NAACP in 2000, during his first run for the presidency, but he did not make another appearance until 2006.

But now, even though there's a new president and a new dynamic, there are still some questions as to whether the NAACP and Obama share the same approach.

"I think his big challenge now is going to be in talking to them about issues that have concerned him in the past, like problems with teen pregnancy and black-on-black crime, that the NAACP hasn't been that eager to deal with," said Clarence Page, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

In his speech Thursday, the president talked about "how we need to recapture the same sense of responsibility in Washington and in our own lives that made the civil rights movement a success."

"In particular, when it comes to education, we need better standards in our schools, excellent teachers in our classrooms, and parents doing their part to ensure that all our children can succeed, no matter what their race, faith or station in life," a senior administration official said.

Last year, as a candidate, Obama was both deferential and defiant before the civil rights group. Taking on some of his African-American critics, Obama delivered a message of tough love.

"It is always humbling to speak before the NAACP, because it is a powerful reminder of the debt that we all owe to those who marched for us, fought for us and stood up on our behalf," he told the group.

"I know there's some who've been saying I've been too tough, talking about responsibility. NAACP, I'm here to report: I'm not going to stop talking about it," he said.

Obama echoed that message just last week in Ghana, telling the country, "We all know that the future of Africa is in the hand of Africans."

Earlier this week, Michael Steele, the first African-American chair of the Republican National Committee, addressed the NAACP and urged its members to take another look at the Republican Party.

Steele on Thursday reiterated that message, telling CNN, "There's a historic and inextricable link between the GOP and African-Americans. In fact, Republicans helped found the NAACP back in 1909." We're not stupid, the Republican party has changed since then, as have the democratic party. Jesus.

The Republican Party, however, has not received more than 11 percent of the African-American vote since 1996. Obama received 95 percent of the black vote in the 2008 election.

According to a national poll conducted in May, African-Americans really like Obama, but more and more feel that race relations have not gotten better since he took office.

In December, 51 percent of African-Americans said Obama's election marks the start of a new era of better race relations, according to a CNN/Essence Magazine/Opinion Research Corp. poll.

In May, that number dropped to 44 percent.

The historic election of the first African-American president in the United States highlights the NAACP's role in fighting for equality and opportunity. NAACP President Ben Jealous notes that while Obama's presidency is a big milestone, it's just the next step on a long road.

"This is a big step that we've taken, having a black family in the White House, ending that 233-year-old color barrier, but there's a lot more work that needs to be done," he said.

Who else watched it? I'm sad we didn't have a live post, he fucking KILLED it. Sounded like a church up in there.

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ETA: VIDEO!
Tags: barack obama, education, naacp, race / racism
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