RACIAL tensions in the United States are likely to rise if greater efforts are not made to narrow the rich-poor divide and create jobs for hard-pressed ordinary Americans, President Barack Obama has warned.
Urging Washington to give up political point-scoring and focus on rebuilding America's sluggish economy, Mr Obama (pictured) said years of stagnant wages and depressed incomes had left people "anxious" and "frustrated".
"Racial tensions won't get better," he said in an interview with 'The New York Times'. "They may get worse because people feel as if they've got to compete with some other group to get scraps from a shrinking pot. If the economy is growing, everybody feels invested."
Next month also marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, when civil rights leader Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech, an event that Mr Obama said was not just about race, but about economic opportunity.
"I always remind people – and, in fact, I have a copy of the original programme in my office, framed – that that was a march for jobs and justice; that there was a massive economic component to that," he said.
"When you think about the coalition that brought about civil rights, it wasn't just folks who believed in racial equality; it was people who believed in folks having a fair shot."
This week, Mr Obama will continue a national tour to push his inclusive economic message.
He has been scorned by Republicans for his attempt to speak over the heads of Washington's gridlocked Congress, with senior leaders calling for him "get back to his desk" and cut deals, rather than making campaign-style speeches. (© Daily Telegraph, London)