5 Quotes From Obama’s New Memoir ‘A Promised Land’: Rev. Wright, The Police, Rahm Emanuel, Joe Biden And More

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
5 Quotes From Obama’s New Memoir ‘A Promised Land’: Rev. Wright, The Police, Rahm Emanuel, Joe Biden And More. In this photo, then-President Barack Obama tries to quiet one of three hecklers as he addresses the crowd after meeting with community leaders about the executive actions he is taking to fix the immigration system Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Former President Barack Obama released his highly anticipated new memoir, “A Promised Land” on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The first of two volumes, it already has record-breaking sales. In the 700-page book, Obama delves into a variety of topics, including some which he hasn’t addressed at length before. Here are 5 quotes from Obama’s new book.

1. On Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Obama wrote he “knew all too well the occasional spasms of anger within the Black community — my community — that Reverend Wright was channeling. I did know how differently Black and white folks still viewed issues of race in America, regardless of how much else they had in common. For me to believe I could bridge those worlds had been pure hubris, that same hubris that had led me to assume that I could dip in and out of a complex institution like Trinity, headed by a complex man like Reverend Wright and select, as if off a menu, only those things that I liked.”

The 44th Commander In Chief also addressed the following statement by Wright, “We (as in America) believe in white supremacy and Black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”

“I wasn’t surprised that my pastor would point out the gap between America’s professed Christian ideals and its brutal racial history,” Obama wrote in ‘A Promised Land.’ “Still, the language he’d used was more incendiary than anything I’d heard before, and although a part of me was frustrated with the constant need to soften for white folks’ benefit the blunt truths about race in this country, as a matter of practical politics I knew Axe (Obama’s nickname for his adviser David Axelrod) was right.” Axelrod told Obama Wright would have been the leading story on Fox News if he proceeded with the invocation.

2. On Joe Biden in ‘A Promised Land’

“Joe’s enthusiasm had it’s downside. In a town filled with people who like to hear themselves talk, Joe had no peer,” Obama wrote. “His lack of a filter periodically got him in trouble, as when during the primaries, he had pronounced me ‘articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.’” (This was thought by some to say these were uncommon traits for a Black man.)

“As I came to know Joe, through, I found his occasional gaffes to be trivial compared to his strengths…Most of all, Joe had heart.”

Obama also said he used Biden for negotiations because of racism.

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3. On The Police

In addressing an immense drop in support from white voters after he said the police “acted stupidly” when arresting Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates at his home, Obama said the incident “was my first indicator of how the issue of Black folks and the police was more polarizing that just about any other subject in American life.”

He added, “it reminded all of us, Black and white alike, that the basis of our nation’s social order had never been simply about consent; that it was also about centuries of state-sponsored violence by whites against Black and brown people…”

4. On Rahm Emanuel

Obama said his fromer chief of staff gave him a reality check while he was still on a “postelection honeymoon period.” He said Emanuel told him, “’Trust me, the presidency is like a new car. It starts depreciating the minute you drive it off the lot.”’

5. On His Mixed Race in ‘A Promised Land’

“It was as if, because of the very strangeness of my heritage and the worlds I straddled, I was from everywhere and nowhere at once, a combination of ill-fitting parts, like a platypus or some imaginary beast, confined to a fragile habitat, unsure of where I belonged. And I sensed, without fully understanding why or how, that unless I could stitch my life together and situate myself along some firm axis, I might end up in some basic way living my life alone,” Obama wrote in ‘A Promised Land.’ “… I resolved the lingering questions of my racial identity. For it turned out there was no single way to be Black; just trying to be a good man was enough.”

Transcribed quotes from the Chicago Sun-Times, Goodreads and The Daily Beast were used in this article.