Harvard Law School Professor Randall Kennedy recently appeared on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show and CSPAN’s BookTV to discuss his latest book, “The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency” (Pantheon Books).

According to Kennedy, Obama “tried to stay away from race during his campaign and is trying to stay away from it during his presidency.” Kennedy called it “a sad reality of American politics that the president of the United States has to tippy toe around the race question.”

Kennedy said that the left needs to maintain pressure to get the president to do more but must understand the complexity of electoral politics.

“It would be a tremendous error, for progressives to prompt the president, or demand that this president act in ways that would cripple his ability to be reelected,” said Kennedy. “On one hand you’ve got to push him, you’ve got to change the electoral landscape, but you’ve got to do it in a way that enables him to get the votes that he needs to be reelected.”

You can hear the full interview on PBS with Tavis Smiley here and the full interview from BookTV with April Ryan here.

Randall L. Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the author of several books, including “Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal” (Pantheon Books, 2008).