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Obama opens gate to dialogue on race relations

  Sen. Barack Obama's speech on race relations has a lot of people talking about the subject --  and many are grateful for the opportunity.

   The Buffalo News interviewed more than 30 people for this story, from Amherst, Cheektowaga, Hamburg and Orchard Park to Buffalo. They are black and white, men and women. They range in age from 18 to 80. They were people who live in the city and rarely leave it. Some work in the city and live in the suburbs and others  live in the suburbs and know little of the city.

   "That speech was more significant in this day and age than Martin Luther King's  'I have a Dream' speech," said Melvin Watkins, one of more than 30 people  interviewed for this report.

   "King spoke in symbolism," he said. "[Obama] brought it right out where people can understand."

   As Obama explained his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, he used it as an opportunity to take on the complexities of race relations in the 21st century, tackling issues of black anger and white resentment.

   Have you had a conversation about race in the wake of Obama's speech? Did you take it as an opportunity to rethink your own views about race?

   -- Maki Becker

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