President Barack Obama said Wednesday he will be invested “for the rest of my life” to his mentorship program for young men of color.
Speaking at the final White House event for the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, Obama said his initiative to reduce barriers to success for minority men would remain a lifelong pursuit.
He recognizes his own story reflected in the lives of some of the program’s participants, he said.
“I see myself in these young people,” Obama said. “I grew up without a father. There were times when I made poor choices, times where I was adrift. The only difference between me and a lot of other young men is that I grew up in a forgiving environment.”
Launched in 2014, the My Brother’s Keeper program has sought to improve the prospects of young men of color by organizing mentorships with older professionals. Professional athletes and celebrities have also joined in programs stressing the importance of education and job training.
Speaking about the plight of young black men and boys, Obama has often evoked his own childhood with an absent father. But he’s noted that the opportunities presented to him, like quality schooling, should be available for all American children.
“What we have also long understood is that some communities have consistently had the odds stacked against them,” Obama said. “That’s especially true for boys and young men of color. All of you know that statistics and the stories of young people who had the intelligence, the potential, to do amazing things, but somehow slipped through the cracks.”
He said ensuring that all young people are able achieve their goals “is the single most important task that we have as a nation.”