Talk-show host Tavis Smiley is happy President Barack Obama talked about race with regard to the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin, but Smiley believes Obama was pressured into finally addressing the issue.
"He did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium," Smiley said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House pushed him to that podium."
Despite Obama noting in a White House press conference Friday
that "Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago," he still did not answer the question, "Where do we go from here?" Smiley said.
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"This is not Libya, this is America. And on this issue you cannot lead from behind," Smiley said. "What's lacking in this moment is moral leadership."
Politicians can lead on race, Smiley said. "Lincoln did, Truman did, Johnson did."
Smiley urged Obama to "step into his moment. I don't want him to be like Bill Clinton when he's out of office regretting that he didn't move on Rwanda."
Charles Ogletree, Obama's law professor at Harvard University, disagreed.
"People keep making him as though he's the black president. He's the president, who happens to be black. And he can do whatever he can do for all of us, but not simply focus on one community or one issue," Ogletree said on the NBC show.
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