That paragraph was preceded by this clause: “I choose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because …” In fact, every quote in this column comes from the March 18, 2008, address that Obama delivered at a moment when his barrier-busting presidential campaign seemed derailed by the hateful views of his minister, Jeremiah Wright.

Obama should go to Ferguson because he is uniquely skilled and situated to this time. After failing miserably to unite the reds and blues of U.S. politics, Obama can still bring calm and understanding to the racial shades of America—the whites and blacks and browns, etc.

He should bring to Ferguson the consistent message he espoused again Sunday and Monday night. For years, Obama has urged whites to “acknowledge that what ails the African-America community does not just exist in the minds of black people.” He has told blacks they can’t pretend that our society is static; “as if no progress has been made.”