I love my country.
Understand me. I am not talking about flag waving pseudo political bullshit where I wrap myself in a flag and march down Main Street. I'm talking about what really is unique about America. We, as Americans, formed a government out of whole cloth and built it on the fundamental principle that people matter.
I literally grew up with the names of the people and places on my walls. Lexington and Concord. Valley Forge. Ben Franklin. Thomas Jefferson. Crispus Attucks. George Washington. Cowpens. The Old Wagoneer, Daniel Morgan and his riflemen. Colonel John Glover and his Marbleheaders.
These are the names that come down to us through the centuries of the people who struggled to give us our freedom and the places where they fought and died, ultimately, because people matter.
I think we all know that people aren't perfect. You're not. I'm not. The people that wrote the Constitution weren't. As flawed people they put together a flawed document to help other flawed people lead a nation of flawed people. Many were left behind in that original document. Women, of course, were ignored entirely and what's worse black Americans--even though they fought and died to give us our liberty--were considered less than a person and relegated to the worst kind of human bondage. The blueprint for the nation that would serve as a beacon for liberty throughout the world was tainted with the execrable stain of slavery. It was--and is--our original sin and like Lady Macbeth we've never been able to wash the blood out.
But we have returned, time and time again to the fundamental principle that people matter.
When men starved and died at Valley Forge, they did it because people matter.
When the pioneers of American feminism met at Seneca Falls they did it because people matter.
When the best young men of a generation gave the last full measure of devotion on Little Round Top, at Pittsburg Landing, and in that last terrible charge at Cold Harbor, they did it because people matter.
When workers rallied in Haymarket Square on the First of May they did it because people matter.
When nine black students enrolled in Little Rock Central High, they did it because people matter.
When the National Guard escorted those students past the howling mob they did it because people matter.
Tonight, we take a big step. Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic Party's nomination for the Presidency. A black man stands closer to the Presidency than any has ever stood before.
Obama will accept the nomination on the 25th of August, forty-five years to the day since Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and told the world about his dream of an America free from prejudice.
Tonight, we're a little bit closer to realizing that dream.
Tonight should send a message to every young black man and woman in America. You matter. When you're told that you can accomplish anything you can believe it.