Tavis Smiley (The Tavis Smiley Show)

Was President Obama trying to inspire or disrespect black lawmakers when he said the following at the end of his speech Saturday at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Phoenix Awards Dinner?

I expect all of you to march with me and press on. [Applause.] Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. [Applause.] Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We've got work to do, CBC. [Applause.]


Clearly, Tavis Smiley thinks it was the former, based on the question he put to Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in an interview that aired on his PBS show Monday night. After asking — no, really, shouting — if Obama would ever make similar remarks to his Jewish, gay or Latino constituencies, Smiley said, "How does he get away with saying this to black folk when he would never form his lips to ever say that to any other constituency?"

Jackson Lee offered that the president "came and put on the armor of brother and sister," while saying she made no excuse for the remarks. See the exchange in the video above (and if you can decipher the meaning of Jackson Lee's "there were those who cheered when Jesus was crucified" comment, please let us know.) Find more information about the show at PBS.org.

In other news: Jay-Z Announces Plans for Brooklyn Nets.

Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.