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Obama Discusses Duties of Fatherhood

Sen. John McCain shows Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to his car after the two met at McCain's campaign headquarters.
Sen. John McCain shows Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to his car after the two met at McCain's campaign headquarters. (By Lm Otero -- Associated Press)
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Monday, June 16, 2008

SENATOR'S SERMON

Obama Discusses Duties of Fatherhood

Calling himself "an imperfect father," Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spoke of the need for more African American men to live up to their responsibilities in a Father's Day sermon yesterday.

Obama said that too many black fathers are "missing from too many lives and too many homes," adding that these men "have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."

His sermon at Chicago's Apostolic Church of God, with his wife and two daughters in the audience, marked the first time that he had addressed a church since ending his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ, his longtime place of worship.

More police on the street and job training programs are essential for a safe and sound society, Obama said, "but we also need families to raise our children."

"I say this knowing that I have been an imperfect father -- knowing that I have made mistakes and will continue to make more, wishing that I could be home for my girls and my wife more than I am right now," he said. "I say this, knowing all of these things, because even as we are imperfect, even as we face difficult circumstances, there are still certain lessons we must strive to live and learn as fathers -- whether we are black or white, rich or poor, from the South Side or the wealthiest suburb."

Obama said he was fortunate to have his grandparents aid his mother in his upbringing.

"Even though my father left us when I was 2 years old, and I only knew him from the letters he wrote and the stories that my family told, I was luckier than most. I grew up in Hawaii, and had two wonderful grandparents from Kansas who poured everything they had into helping my mother raise my sister and me -- who worked with her to teach us about love and respect and the obligations we have to one another," he told the audience. "I screwed up more often than I should've, but I got plenty of second chances. And even though we didn't have a lot of money, scholarships gave me the opportunity to go to some of the best schools in the country. A lot of kids don't get these chances today. There is no margin for error in their lives."

-- Juliet Eilperin

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