Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Barack Obama's Fathers’ Day message

By Dave Cook / June 17, 2009



President Barack Obama is likely to deliver a Fathers’ Day message that focuses on the responsibility dads have, despite the fact that a speech with the same theme caused a dust-up with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the 2008 campaign.

Skip to next paragraph

At Wednesday’s White House briefing April Ryan, a correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, asked presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs about Obama’s Fathers’ Day plans.

Talk about responsibility causes brouhaha

Ms. Ryan referred to the “brouhaha” last year when presidential candidate Obama went to a black church to talk about fathers’ responsibilities and Jesse Jackson criticized him for talking down to black people on matters of faith. Jackson later described his own remarks as “crude and hurtful.”

Spokesman Gibbs replied, “I don’t know what his plans are exactly on the day, obviously there will be events here. He will speak to the responsibility that all fathers have....I forgot the brouhaha. That happens when many brouhahas encompass your life.”

A recurring theme

Obama, who grew up without a father in the home, has always stressed the theme of responsibility, Gibbs said. “I have heard some variation of that speech on responsibility, particularly as it relates to fatherhood, I heard some strains of that at the first event I ever went to with then-State Senator Barack Obama in April of 2004. So his message of responsibility is one I trust he gave before I met him and will continue to give regardless of the brouhaha.”

Rev. Jackson’s comments about Obama’s Fathers’ Day speech came at the end of an interview with Fox News when he thought the microphone was off. He later issued an apology which said, "My appeal was for the moral content of his message to not only deal with the personal and moral responsibility of black males, but to deal with the collective moral responsibility of government and the public policy which would be a corrective action for the lack of good choices that often led to their irresponsibility.”

The Obama campaign’s response to Jackson’s apology noted that in addition to the theme of responsibility Obama “also discusses our responsibility as a society to provide jobs, justice, and opportunity for all.”