Barack Obama Confronts Racial Division in U.S.

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Sen. Barack Obama today repudiated what he described as offensive comments by his former pastor, but he refused to "disown" the man who was once his spiritual mentor. The contender for the Democratic presidential nomination sought to explain the anger that persists in the black community over racism and that occasionally makes its way into sermons in black churches.

In what his campaign billed as a major speech in Philadelphia, Obama tried to come to grips with the issue of race in his run for the presidency and to reinforce his primary theme that he can help bring fundamental change to the nation. His remarks were aimed at repairing the damage his campaign has suffered from his association with Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. and addressing what he called a "particularly divisive turn" in recent weeks as videos of the fiery pastor's sermons have circulated.

Saying that America remains stuck in "a racial stalemate," the Illinois senator said he was not naive enough to believe that the divisions could be overcome in a single election. But he said Americans working together "can move beyond some of our old racial wounds."

He described his own heritage as a biracial American married to a black woman "who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners."

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