clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Here's what Obama tells his daughters about civil rights

Pool/Getty Images

Days after the Justice Department's report on racism by the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department, President Obama's message to his teen daughters is that civil rights work is "an unfinished project."

In a Friday morning interview with radio host Tom Joyner about his upcoming trip to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate Bloody Sunday, the president made reference to the DOJ's report — which concluded that Ferguson police routinely violated the constitutional rights of black citizens. He said he reminds Sasha and Malia that "there is work to be done right now" and "it is a glorious task we are given to improve this great country of ours."

(Read more: The 6 most damning findings from the DOJ's report on racism in the city of Ferguson)

Obama said the girls are unlikely to become involved in politics, joking, "partly because they've been listening to their mother." But, he said, he hopes whatever careers they choose, whether in business or the arts, provide opportunities for others or are informed by the "great social issues of the day."

Bloody Sunday commemorates March 7, 1965, when marchers demanding voting rights — including Congressman John Lewis, who is scheduled to attend this weekend's commemorative events — were brutally beaten by police.

Obama emphasized that the civil rights movement "wasn't just Martin Luther King making a speech," and wasn't dominated by those who, like Lewis, now have high profiles. He said it was "everyday people" who were Bloody Sunday's civil rights heroes.

Further Reading

Here are 7 racist jokes Ferguson police and court officials made over email

4 things Ferguson needs to do to even begin to fix its race problem