Obama Talks Race Relations On BET: ‘We Have Made Progress’

In the wake of the non-indictment of the officers responsible for the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, President Obama sat down with BET to discuss how the nation will move forward amidst heightened racial tensions. In the interview, set to air on Monday (Dec. 8), Obama remarked that the issues will take time to be solved, and that notable progress has been made.

“This is something that’s deeply rooted in our society, it’s deeply rooted in our history,” he said. But the two things that are going to allow us to solve it: No. 1 is the understanding that we have made progress. And so it’s important to recognize — as painful as these incidents are — we can’t equate what’s happening now to what was happening 50 years ago.”

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President Obama also made a point to encourage Americans to remain steadfast in their fight for civil rights. While he called for calm following the Darren Wilson grand jury decision, Obama stressed “vigilance” in the effort to affect change.

“The second thing is, we have to be persistent, because typically progress is in steps,” he said. “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 that it is going to take some time and you just have to be steady, so that you don’t give up when we don’t get all the way there.”

Watch a clip from Obama’s BET interview here. The full sit-down, “BET News Presents: A Conversation With President Obama,” airs tomorrow night at 6 p.m.