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Backstage: David Remnick speaks about the "deepest defining wound"

April 6, 2010

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“Barack Obama is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma.”
             -Veteran congressman and civil-rights leader John Lewis

Obama’s election as the first African-American President came at the end of a personal journey that intersected with the history of race in American politics.

• What does it mean for America, 150 years since the commencement of the Civil War to have a black president?
• What was it about Obama that allowed him to break this barrier?
• Is Obama a symbol of how much the country has changed, or is he changing the country himself.
• What separated him, historically and personally, from generations of civil-rights leaders and other black politicians?
• How, as a writer and as a politician, did he go about making his personal story emblematic of the American story?

These are just some of the questions examined in The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama that will be explored in a discussion between David Remnick and Ta-Nehisi Coates.