Addressing the NAACP, President Obama on Thursday said discrimination in America is the lowest it has ever been, though he said it does still hurt blacks, religious minorities and gays.
"Overall, there's probably never been less discrimination in America than there is today," Mr. Obama said at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's centennial celebration in New York.
"But make no mistake: The pain of discrimination is still felt in America."
Still, Mr. Obama, the nation's first black president, said structural barriers such as poverty and the lack of a good education are a bigger roadblock than discrimination for Americans trying to get ahead.
The president also mixed in his personal responsibility message that he and his wife have featured as they speak to children and parents. Calling for "a new mind-set, a new set of attitudes," he said adults must take responsibility for their children and for their neighbors' children.
"It means we need to be there for our neighbor's son or daughter and return to the day when we parents let each other know if we saw a child acting up," he said. "That's the meaning of community."
Mr. Obama cited repeated areas in which blacks lagged behind in achievement, such as reading and math, and pointed to pay disparities as another example of where barriers still exist.
But he said his calls to expand education opportunities, his challenge to reduce the dropout rate and his efforts to boost health care will help end those barriers.
The president also extended the battle against discrimination to gays, saying they are "still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights."
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