Politics & Government

Obama urges persistence to combat racism

President Barack Obama, Dec. 1, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
President Barack Obama, Dec. 1, 2014 in Washington, D.C. TNS

President Barack Obama said Sunday that it will take time -- and persistence -- to fight the racism deeply rooted in United States as he continued to urge calm in the wake of protests across the nation following two grand jury verdicts in New York and Ferguson, Mo.

“This is something that’s deeply rooted in our society, that’s deeply rooted in our history,” Obama said in an interview on the cable network BET.

Obama sat down with BET Networks for his first extended remarks about a pair of grand jury verdicts that cleared white police officers in the death of black men for a special show, “BET News Presents: A Conversation with President Barack Obama.” BET’s “106 & PARK” will air a portion of the interview on Monday at 5 p.m. The full interview will air at 6 p.m.

Obama said there has been significant process in brief excerpts released by the network.

“It’s important to recognize that as painful as these incidents are, we can’t equate what is happening now to what happened 50 years ago,” Obama said. “If you talk to your parents, your grandparents, they’ll tell you things are better. Not good in some cases, but better. The reason it’s important to understand that progress has been made is that it then gives us hope we can make even more progress.”

Obama’s Justice Department is investigating both cases: The deaths of 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York and 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Last week, Obama called for a package of resources for police, including $75 million to buy 50,000 more body-worn cameras.

“We have to be persistent,” Obama said. “Typically, progress is in steps. It’s in increments. When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society you’ve got to have vigilance but you have to recognize it will take some time and you have to be steady so you don’t give up when we don’t get all the way there.”