The President’s Speech

The President’s Speech February 28, 2014

From CNN:

Kris and I appreciated these words, and I wonder what you are thinking.

(CNN) – The President has a message for young minority men who grew up like he did.

“No excuses. Government, and private sector, and philanthropy, and all the faith communities, we all have a responsibility to help provide you the tools you need. We’ve got to help you knock down some of the barriers that you experience,” he said.

“But you’ve got responsibilities too. And I know you can meet the challenge, many of you already are, if you make the effort.”

“I didn’t have a dad in the house, and I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time. I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short,” the President said.

He compared himself to young men now who are growing up like he did.

“The only difference is that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving. So when I made a mistake, the consequences were not as severe,” the President said.

“I had people who encouraged me, not just my mom and grandparents, but wonderful teachers and community leaders. And they pushed me to work hard, and study hard, and make the most of myself. And if I didn’t listen, they said it again. And if I didn’t listen, they said it a third time – and they would give me second chances and third chances.

“They never gave up on me, and so I didn’t give up on myself.”

Every child deserves the same chances he had, Obama said.

“This is an issue of national importance. It’s as important as any issue that I work on. It’s an issue that goes to the very heart of why I ran for President, because if America stands for anything, it stands for the idea of opportunity for everybody.

“The notion that no matter who you are, or where you came from, or the circumstances into which you are born, if you work hard, if you take responsibility, then you can make it in this country,” the President said.

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  • Derwin L. Gray

    I appreciated it.

  • Dennis Schultz

    This speech and collaborative initiative by President Obama calls us to employ all of our community resources to assist this overlooked group. Such combined efforts can help us create a culture of empowerment that will be of a great benefit throughout our society.

  • metanoia

    I’ll start out front by stating that I am cynical. Not just of this president, but of politicians in general who have crafted speech making to a deceptive art. Too many politicians say the “right” things but then follow them up with bad policy that was crafted in a smoke filled room with a wink of the eye to the highest bidder. If this President, and Congress really wanted to lift minority men out of their predicament, they can start out by creating free-enterprise zones in the communities that need them most and by-pass a lot of the obstruction to lure business into these areas that comes from the hands of politicians and unions. Create “super primary schools”K-5 in these zone and recruit the best Reading, Math and Science teachers and pay them a premium for working in these areas (in many ways it is similar to combat pay). For a full generation, guarantee a full tuition college scholarship for 2 or maybe 3 children in each of the families in these communities and thereby provide an incentive for smaller and thus fewer out of wedlock families. Tie welfare to work. Partner with business to create entrepreneur training and mentoring programs. There’s a ton of things that can be done, and some are, but the politics has poisoned much of it and the people (pawns) are the ones who suffer. I got out of the ghetto in spite of it all, but unfortunately many of my childhood friends, and family members never escaped.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “Tie welfare to work.”

    It already is.

  • Antonio Rivera

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter here:

    You might benefit from reading this response to the President’s comments from Ebony magazine, but in a sentence:

    “Creating change is not simply about behavior but also about changing the pervasively unequal systems that ensnare young men of color.”