Blog Posts Related to the African American Community

  • Building on What Works With My Brother’s Keeper

    When President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in February, the response from communities across the country was immediate and overwhelmingly positive.  We quickly began hearing stories of creativity, collaboration, and triumphs from community leaders and organizations doing grassroots work to enhance opportunities for boys and young men of color. Some organizations, having done this work for a while, shared what types of programs and coordinated efforts they have seen work through the years, while others have responded to the President’s call to action with new initiatives and commitments of their own.

    We heard from a financial services firm in Long Beach, California which has partnered with an 8th grade mentoring program to arrange field trips to their office. Students fill out applications, interview with managers, and go through mock hiring processes. They are then connected with mentors, and offered serious rewards (like laptops) when they reach GPA goals set by the company. 

  • Honoring President Lyndon Baines Johnson on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

    Watch on YouTube

    Today, 50 years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, President Obama spoke at the LBJ Presidential Library to honor the work and legacy of our nation’s 36th president.

    “As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible,” President Obama said. “We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers -- whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change.”

  • Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at the LBJ Presidential Library

    Ed. note: Tune in to whitehouse.gov/live at 11:50 am ET to watch President Obama's remarks at the LBJ Presidential Library to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

    In early December 1972, heroes of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, braved a rare Austin ice storm to convene at the LBJ Presidential Library for a Civil Rights Symposium. Towering figures like Hubert Humphrey, Barbara Jordan, Clarence Mitchell and Earl Warren rose to the stage in the course of the two-day conference to reflect on the movement they had helped to foster while examining the issues where progress was still needed.

    Among them was the host of the gathering, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the thirty-sixth President. It was he who, during the course of his five-year presidency, had sounded a death knell to racial inequality through a triumvirate of laws: The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

    Lyndon B. Johnson speaks to the nation before signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Lyndon B. Johnson speaks to the nation before signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. East Room, White House, Washington, DC. 7/2/64.

    He considered the second—the Voting Rights Act—his greatest legislative achievement. As with all of them, it had come hard. In March 1965, after a protest march in Selma, Alabama, was brutally thwarted by state troopers, he stood before a joint session of Congress knowing that his plea for the law would fall on the deaf ears of segregationists in his own party. His voice strong, his will determined, he said:

    It was more than a hundred years ago that Abraham Lincoln, a great president from another party, signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact. A century has passed since the day of promise. And the promise is unkept.

    What happened in Selma is part of a larger movement, which reached into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause, too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really, it’s all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

    And we shall overcome.

  • An Update on the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

    President Barack Obama meets with foundation and business leaders to discuss "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color

    President Barack Obama meets with foundation and business leaders to discuss "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    “My administration’s policiesfrom early childhood education to job training, to minimum wagesare designed to give a hand up to everybody, every child, every American willing to work hard and take responsibility for their own success. That's the larger agenda. 

    But the plain fact is there are some Americans who, in the aggregate, are consistently doing worse in our societygroups that have had the odds stacked against them in unique ways that require unique solutions; groups who’ve seen fewer opportunities that have spanned generations. And by almost every measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century in this country are boys and young men of color.”

    President Obama used these words to launch My Brother’s Keeper, his initiative to help ensure that boys and young men of color in America have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

    Since then, the public response has been overwhelming. We’ve heard from private philanthropies and businesses, mayors, state and local leaders, faith organizations, community based non-profits, and thousands of  interested citizens, all who are committed to creating more pathways to success for these boys and young men. We will continue to engage and listen to these critical voices and those of the boys and young men this initiative focuses on, as we continue to learn from the efforts of the many stakeholders who have been committed to this cause for years. And we will do our best to live up to the optimism and incredible expectations this initiative has unleashed. 

  • What They’re Saying: Douglas M. Brooks as the New Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy

    After President Obama announced yesterday that Douglas M. Brooks, MSW, would lead the Office of National AIDS Policy, HIV/AIDS organizations from around the country announced their support. They echoed the President’s words when he said, “Douglas’s policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach.” Brooks, an openly gay African American man living with HIV, is a respected expert in the community whose distinct experiences will help further our goals of achieving an AIDS-free generation and improving the health of people living with HIV in the United States.

    Here’s what some HIV/AIDS organizations said about the President’s announcement:

    amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research (New York, NY)
    “We are eager to see strong leadership carry out the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s renewed focus on evidence-based policy and effective programming, especially with respect to populations hardest hit by AIDS in America, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, and African American and Latino men and women.”

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation (San Francisco, CA)
    “Douglas is the right person at the right time to step into this role. As new infections increasingly concentrate in the African-American community, and especially among Black gay men, it is more important than ever that our young people see a future for themselves in the face of someone like Douglas so that they can harness their innate resilience to create healthy and successful lives.”

    AIDS United (Washington, DC)
    “We have the opportunity to finally end the epidemic. I’ve been fortunate to work directly with Douglas, and have great confidence that he knows how to convene the right public and private partners to engage in the right conversations that will result in real progress.”

    National Minority AIDS Council (Washington, DC)
    “As the most heavily impacted population in the country, it is critical that Black gay men – especially those living with HIV – are represented at the highest levels of our government’s response to the epidemic.”

    Lifelong AIDS Alliance (Seattle, WA)
    “His tireless work to support the communities most greatly affected by HIV is steeped in compassion and personal commitment supported by epidemiological data. This appointment will help drive our common objective to end AIDS today and subsequently put a dent in HIV incidence within the United States and worldwide.”

    The AIDS Institute (Washington, DC)
    “Achieving these goals in an environment of constrained budget resources and within the changing landscape of the Affordable Care Act provides unique opportunities and challenges. We are confident Brooks possesses the leadership and passion to guide the White House through the next few years as we together aim to fulfill the President’s desire to realize an AIDS-free generation.”

    Gautam Raghavan is Associate Director with the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • Discussing President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Initiative

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from ED.gov

    This Thursday, from March 20, 2014 from 12-1 p.m. ET the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will host its next installment of #AfAmEdChat. This edition will focus on President Obama’s new #MyBrothersKeeper initiative. “By increasing awareness of the President’s initiative My Brother’s Keeper we can each take concrete steps to reduce the barriers that race and poverty play in denying equality of opportunity” shares Deputy Secretary of Education, Jim Shelton.

    The March 20th #AfAmEdChat is one of a series of strategies the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans is using to bring people together around issues and ideas supporting the achievement of boys and men of color. Deputy Secretary Shelton notes “Social media is the fastest and easiest way to spark discussion and exchange ideas. Conversations about race and poverty are often difficult to have face to face and are often therefore avoided.” President Obama reminded us during the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, and Shelton adds “the unique challenges facing boys and men of color should never be swept under the rug.”

    According to Deputy Secretary Shelton, “folks should tune into the My Brother’s Keeper #AfAmEdChat to stay in touch with the latest details and help move the conversation forward. We will be sharing information regarding our process and next steps as well as ways for you to be involved and updated in this critical work.”

    In addition to White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Executive Director David J. Johns and Policy Advisor Christopher Scott, confirmed guests include:

    • Mike Blake – Green For All – Director of Public Policy & External Affairs & Operation Hope – Senior Advisor – @MrMikeBlake
       
    • Mary Brown – Executive Director, Life Pieces to Masterpieces – @LP2MP
       
    • Christopher Chatmon – Executive Director, African American Male Achievement, Oakland Unified School District – @AAMAOUSD
       
    • Shawn Dove – Manager of Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement – @DoveSoars
       
    • Angela Glover–Blackwell – Founder and Chief Executive Officers, PolicyLink – @policylink
       
    • Shaun Harper – Executive Director, Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education at University of Pennsylvania – @DrShaunHarper

    Additionally, to support the work of My Brothers Keeper, the Initiative is hosting a series of Summits on Educational Excellence for African Americans in cities across the Nation to directly engage young people, schools, communities, philanthropy and businesses interested in implementing successful strategies. To learn more and to register for a Summit near you visit www.ed.gov/AfAmEducation

    Khalilah Harris is a fellow with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.