Blog Posts Related to the African American Community

  • The First Lady Reminds HBCU Students of Their Legacy In America's History

    First Lady NC A&T Commencement Speech

    A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. presents First Lady Michelle Obama with a hood signifying her honorary degree following her commencement address during the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University commencement ceremony in Greensboro, N.C., May 12, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


    On Saturday, May 12, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement address for the graduating class of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University (NC A&T), a historically black university located in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

    The First Lady began by noting the many A&T alumni who broke through glass ceilings in fields of law, science, and business:

    You have produced some of our nation's finest leaders in business, government, and our military. The first African American Justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court was an Aggie. So was the second African American astronaut. And so were those four young men who sat down at a lunch counter 52 years ago and will stand forever in bronze in front of the Dudley building.

    Mrs. Obama also retold the story about the Greensboro Four --students who did more than participate in a sit-in at Woolworths to desegregate lunch counters during the 1960s. They were also an inspiration for justice and civil disobedience during the collective effort toward equal rights for all Americans:

    It all started because a small group of young people had their eyes open to the injustices around them. It all started because they decided, as one fo the four told the newspaper on the first day of the protests, that it was "time for someone to wake up and change the situation." And that, more than anything else, is the story of our nation's progress right from the very beginning.

    The First Lady closed with a call to action for the 1200 graduates to not just focus on climbing the career ladder job titles, but to continue fighting to change the many injustices that still exist today:

    Each generation lookas at the world around them and decides that it's time to wake up and change the situation. And we've always looked to our young people to lead the way. We always have.

    So graduates, now it's your turn. It's time for you to take that baton. Take it. It's time for you to carry the banner forward. It's time for you to wake the rest of us up and show us everything you've got.

    Click here to read Mrs. Obama's full commencement speech to the 2012 Graduating class of North Carolina A&T.

    Heather Foster is an Associate Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement

  • Infographic: How Refinancing Can Help Families

    Ed. Note: This post was originally published on Treasury Notes.

    Today, millions of Americans who are current on their mortgage payments cannot refinance at historically-low interest rates. The President is proposing legislation that would allow more homeowners to refinance. Under the President’s plan, they would have two refinancing options.

    Check out what those options are in this infographic (click here or on the image below to see the full infographic):

  • My First Job: Valerie Jarrett

    Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.

    Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, says her first job taught her about working with people who are under enormous amounts of stress, the importance of paying attention to details and something that virtually every worker deals with each day--showing up to work on time. Check it out:

    So far, employers have committed to providing more than 300,000 jobs, mentorships, and other employment opportunities this summer through Summer Jobs+.

    You heard about Valerie's first job. Now go find yours.

  • Administration Officials Host African American Policy Forum In Las Vegas, Nevada

    On Monday, April 30th, the White House Office of Public Engagement hosted the first African American Policy Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. The administration partnered with Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to discuss a wide-range of topics including, jobs, housing and development, small business and entrepreneurship, the economy, and how each affect the African American community.

    During the forum, visitors who were in attendance were welcomed by Senator Harry Reid, followed by keynote remarks from administration official, Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition to hearing remarks, various administration and local officials held panels to discuss job training, business and the economy. Notably, Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discussed health disparities and other health-related issues during her segment. The panel gave officials another opportunity to discuss the President's plan to build a stronger economy and how his plans will help strengthen the African American community.

    The African American Policy Forums serve as great opportunities for the public to be engaged on how the President is addressing some of the issues that affect the community most. More information on upcoming African American Policy Forums, White House events, and additional information on President Obama and the African American community can be found here.

  • Screening "To Kill A Mockingbird" at the White House

    Art has helped create the America that we know and love today. And at its best, film allows us a window into our own lives and get a chance to see the world through someone else's eyes. One of the heroes of American cinema, Atticus Finch, said that "you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

    That great line is from the classic film "To Kill A Mockingbird," a movie that has informed and entertained us for generations. I love the movies. And art gave me the chance at a young age to experience a world beyond my neighborhood in Chicago and develop skills that have lasted a lifetime. 

    Stories like mine are reasons President Obama is committed to recognizing the importance of the fine arts. And as a part of his constant effort to acknowledge and celebrate the  arts and their impact on our country, on Thursday, April 5, President Obama commemorated the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird—a 1962 film adaptation of author Harper Lee’s 1960 novel about racial inequality in the deep south—by hosting a screening in the Family Theater at the White House. The invited guests included actors and family members related to the film. Among them was Mary Badham Wilt, the actress who played Scout; Veronique Peck, widow of Gregory Peck who played Atticus Finch; and students from local school in Virginia, Washington-Lee High School. 

  • 1.5 Million African Americans to be Impacted if Congress Fails to Act

    Yesterday, the President delivered remarks at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and continued his call for Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. 

    If Congress doesn’t act, interest rates will double on July 1 for more than 7.4 million students with subsidized federal Stafford Loans. Approximately 1.5 million African American borrowers would see their loans increase. To out-educate our global competitors and make college more affordable, Congress needs to stop the interest rate on these student loans from doubling.

    This announcement is one of a series of steps that the Administration has taken to make college more affordable and to make it even easier for students to repay their federal student loans. The Obama Administration’s “Pay as You Earn” plan enables 1.6 million current students to take advantage of a new option to cap student loan repayments at 10% of monthly income when they start repayment, as soon as this year. Graduates currently in repayment can cap their payments at 15% of income right away.  Borrowers looking to determine whether or not income-based repayment is the right option for them should visit

    Now, President Obama is calling on Congress to put forward legislation to stop interest rates from doubling. For the estimated 1.5 million African American borrowers it would mean an estimated average savings per borrower of  $1,003 over the life of the loan and an estimated total savings of $1.5 billion. Keeping interest rates on student loans low would allow more Americans to get: a fair shot at an affordable college education, the skills they need to find a good job, and a clear path to the middle class.

    And, the President is asking all borrowers to help make sure Congress acts, saying:

    … I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online -- call your member of Congress. Email them. Write on their Facebook page. Tweet them -- we’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate. All right?  I’m going to repeat that -- the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.  

    ... Your voice matters. Stand up. Be heard. Be counted. Tell them now is not the time to double the interest rate on your student loans. Now is the time to double down on smart investments that build a strong and secure middle class. Now is the time to double down on an America that’s built to last. 

    Read more about President Obama's proposals to keep college affordable for students and their families.