Yesterday, President Obama announced a public-private partnership designed to provide economic and educational opportunities to young men and boys of color through commitments from foundations, business leaders and public officials.
He didn’t speak to the deterioration of family structures, the dominuation of religion in kid’s lives, the toxic influence of bad-boy rappers, etc., so I’m not optimistic. But, I’m rooting for him on this one.
Brought back memories of a post from last May, praising Michelle Obama.
Here’s a flashback…
I haven’t been a big Michelle Obama fan.
Never recovered from her “first time I’m proud to be an American” snit … and totally turned off by her hypocritical lifestyle of the rich & famous routine.
Biggest deal: I’ve oft said that she and her husband have squandered an opportunity to talk frankly to black kids in a way that only they can.
They’ve got the cred to push family values, individual responsibility and the importance of education.
Except for a few lines in a few speeches, they’ve come up prtetty empty.
That is, until last week when the First Lady gave a great commencement address at Bowie State University.
She encouraged the graduates to promote the importance of education in the black community.
According to the Washington Post, she layered a tough-love cultural commentary with statistics … one in three African American students drop out of high school … only one in five African Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 have a college degree.
Here are a couple of the high impact sound bites from her speech:
Please stand up and reject the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white.
Keep a hunger to learn … education means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.
Push other African Americans to pursue higher education … too often, young African Americans “can’t be bothered ” … they’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games. watching TV.
Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, too many young blacks just fantasize about being ‘a baller or a rapper.
She included a clear challenge to black Americans on issues of personal responsibility: ”Be an example of excellence for the next generation.”
As one parent in the crowd said: “ Hopefully, a lot of people [who] are not enrolled in college heard her”
Way to go, Michelle.
Now, keep it up.
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Click to view the full 20 minute speech … worth watching!