Ben Carson Defines Himself and Makes Big Impression at NAN Convention in NYC; Pastor A.R. Bernard Says He's a 'Leader'

"[We have to] create a situation where we have good jobs again in this country. Right now, [we have] a lot of part-time jobs, a lot of what I call chicken jobs, where you don't make enough money to really sustain yourself. What we need is a robust economy," he continued.

"Only after people have real options should we start talking about entitlement reforms. If we do that before that time it's really cruel and unusual punishment. We have the ability to make those kinds of changes. Also, in the black community, we don't need to wait for other people to help us," he said as the crowd cheered again.

"You know, the fact of the matter is there is over $1 trillion worth of assets in the black community, and what we need to learn how to do is to turn our dollars two or three times in our own community before we send it out."

And to those in the community who create wealth, he said: "We must reach back and pull the next person up, we can't just turn our backs and win the lottery. That's how many other communities have done it. That's what we must do. We don't have to be dependent, quite frankly, on anybody."

On Faith

Carson, who is a practicing Christian, also appealed to the conservative values of the group and urged the audience to respect and defend the Christian faith traditions that helped black Americans weather the scourge of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation.

"We can't allow the movement that has denigrated faith and people of faith in God to also destroy our communities. If people like that want to destroy themselves, let them, but don't allow them to take us with them, because I think the relationship with God is a great relationship," he said.

The neurosurgeon who majored in psychology in his undergraduate years also challenged critics who mock him for not believing in evolution.

"Now some people would say, 'Carson is a strange guy; he's supposed to be a doctor but doesn't believe in science.' That's completely a bunch of crap," he said to laughter.

"You know, how can you become a renowned neurosurgeon without believing in science?" he asked matter-of-factly.

"It's just that I don't believe some of the stuff that people say is [fact]. That something came from nothing. I don't believe that. I don't believe that there could be a big bang and everything suddenly comes into perfect work all by itself," he said.

"And people say, 'Well, you believe the earth is 6,000 years old.' I didn't say I believe the earth is 6,000 years old. I do believe in the Bible though. The Bible says 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth,' period. Now we don't know how long lapsed between that period and the next sentence. It could have been five years, it could have been 50 billion years. We don't know the answer to that," he continued. "But I tell you something else: God is God, and He can create the world any age He wants to. It is very arrogant for any scientist to say, just because they can't explain it, it doesn't exist."

On Education

In discussing the issue of personal responsibility, Carson said he used to be called names like "nerd" and "Uncle Tom" and critics accused him of trying to be white when he was growing up.

He said he sometimes responded: "If being smart is being white, what is being black?"

Finding himself through education, he said, was a really "empowering thing" and "I want all of our young people to be empowered like that." And it's one of the reasons he's working to empower children with reading rooms through the Carson Scholars Fund.

On Black Men

Carson, who's the father of three sons, also touched on the issue of young black men being described as an "endangered species."

He explained that in kindergarten and elementary school black males are good students like everyone else, but noted that stereotypical images of black men being successful in the areas of sports and entertainment have become the most pervasive role models of success for many young black males. And it is a distorted and limited view of the vast potential reflected in the community.

"By the time they (young black men) realize they are not going to be the next Michael Jordan, or Puffy Daddy (audience erupts in laughter) … what's left?" he asked.

He explained that black youth need to be taught about the many black men who've contributed much to the development of American society and went on to list quite a few, like Booker T. Washington.

"That young man has no reason to doubt that his ancestors played an important role in the establishment of this nation, and he should feel fully a part of this nation and should work very hard to strengthen the fabric of this nation," Carson said.

On America's Strength in Diversity

"But you know, I can take that same walk down the street for any nationality and point out the same contribution. You see, that's one of the things that made America into a great nation. Because we had so many people with so much talent from so many different places and our diversity is not a problem, it is a blessing. And we need to understand that we are all in the same boat, and if the boat sinks the rest of us are going down too," he said after sharing his list of influential black men who helped to make America great.

Some Clarifications

Carson then took the opportunity to address what he sees as misconceptions about statements he's made on controversial issues, such as slavery and homosexuality.

"Some people think I don't know how horrible slavery was because I said the Affordable Care Act was the worst thing since slavery. Well let me tell you something. There is nothing that even slightly compares to slavery in this country. I said since slavery, there are a lot of things that happened since then and nothing even becomes remotely similar to slavery. You know, I've had my roots traced back all the way to my great, great, great, great, great grandfather who came from the Turkana tribe, which is a migratory tribe even today in Tanzania and Kenya," he said.

"I know about two of my ancestors, a brother and sister who were sold to separate owners as children and it broke their hearts," he said, pausing to maintain his composure as the audience paused along with him.

"They swore that they would find each other and after the Emancipation, they were in their 60s and they found each other. But you know the pain and the heartache associated with that era, there is nothing that compares to it. And when people say that Carson is comparing it, they are simply trying to create a wedge. That is not what I said, that is not what I meant, he said."

On his views about healthcare, he explained: "I want poor people and everybody to have healthcare. Is healthcare a right? No, but it is the responsibility of a compassionate society, and we are a compassionate society and we have the ability to do it."

He explained that America spends twice as much on healthcare than the next closest nation in the world but the system has horrible access problems and two-tiered medicine which creates a lot of disparities. He proposes having health savings accounts for everybody who is working and taking healthcare out of the political arena.

On Homosexuality and Racism

"People say that I hate gay people. I don't hate gay people I just happen to believe that marriage is between one man and one woman," he said, as many in the crowd interjected "thank you" and cheered.

"Some people believe you can't handle one without the other. If you don't want them to be married then you hate them. Absolutely not true. And I will tell you, I really don't care what any man has to say. I care what God has to say," he said, as the crowd cheered even more.

"Some people say, 'He doesn't like black people. He hates his race.' What a piece of crap that is. I love black people; my wife is a black person," Carson continued.

"And then there are some who say, I say there is no racism. Of course there is racism. There'll be racism as long as there are people with small minds and evil forces to stimulate them. But I'll tell you [what my mother taught me]. She says, if you go into an auditorium full of racist, bigoted people, you don't have a problem, they have a problem; because you see, they're all gonna cringe and wonder if you're gonna sit next to them, whereas you can go sit anywhere you want," he said to more cheers.

After telling an inspiring story about successfully performing a difficult operation in South Africa in 1997 with limited resources and the grace of God, Carson delivered his parting shot: "True success is using the talents that God has given you to elevate other people."

Listen to Ben Carson's complete speech below:

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