SCLC head: Michelle Obama treated more roughly than her husband, because of her slave heritage

Published Saturday, June 21, 2008, 03:37 PM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Savannah — Michelle Obama has been the recipient of rougher treatment than her husband for a reason, the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said Saturday.

One has ancestors who were slaves and the other doesn’t, said Charles Steele Jr., president and CEO of the decades-old, Atlanta-based civil rights group.

Barack Obama is “of the system. He’s going to be in the system,” Steele told a morning gathering of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.

“Why are they attacking Michelle Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and not really attacking, to that degree, her husband?” Steele asked. “Because he has no slave blood in him. He does not have any slave blood in him, but Michelle does.

“This system is an issue. I don’t care what you say. You can’t expect the system that enslaved you save you,” Steele said.

Steele admitted to the crowd that his remarks about the Obamas were intended to be provocative, but afterwards declined to expand upon them.

The SCLC said his larger point was that — even should Obama win the presidency in November, the problems faced African-Americans will still require an outside voice.