Blog Posts Related to the African American Community

  • President Obama Launches My Brother's Keeper, His New Initiative to Help Young Men of Color

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an event to highlight "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2014.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an event to highlight "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This afternoon, in the East Room of the White House, President Obama delivered remarks at the launch event for My Brother's Keeper -- his new initiative aimed at helping young men and boys of color facing tough odds reach their full potential. The initiative will bring together private philanthropies, businesses, governors, mayors, faith leaders, and nonprofit organizations that are committed to helping them succeed.

    As the President said in today's remarks, ensuring that young men of color can reach their full potential is the only way "America can reach its full potential."

    President Obama announced that philanthropies and corporate leaders have pledged to invest at least $200 million over the next five years -- on top of $150 million that they have already invested -- to figure out which programs are the most successful in helping young men of color and replicate them in communities across the country. He also signed a presidential memorandum directing the federal government to determine the best methods to improve the odds for young men of color.

  • My Brother’s Keeper: A New White House Initiative to Empower Boys and Young Men of Color

    A student eyes the Emancipation Proclamation as the President gave students from William R. Harper High School in Chicago a tour of the Oval Office.

    A student eyes the Emancipation Proclamation as the President gave students from William R. Harper High School in Chicago a tour of the Oval Office, June 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, from the East Room of the White House, President Obama will launch a new effort aimed at empowering boys and young men of color, a segment of our society which too often faces disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success. These obstacles are found in our schools, our communities, our criminal justice system, our families, and even in the minds of our young people themselves. The President is committed to build a broad coalition of backers to help break down barriers, clear pathways to opportunity, and reverse troubling trends which show too many of our boys and young men of color slipping through the cracks in our society. 

    To launch the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, the President will be joined by local and national leaders in philanthropy, business, government, faith communities, and media.  The challenges facing boys and young men of color are broad and multidimensional, and so must be the team we bring to the table to begin fostering solutions.  

    On hand today will be General Colin Powell, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Adam Silver, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, Magic Johnson, and many more leaders from key national and regional philanthropic foundations and major businesses, all of whom understand what is at stake with this effort.  When we let this many boys and young men fall behind – we are crippling our ability to reach our full potential as a nation.

  • We the Geeks: Celebrating Black History Month

    We at the White House couldn’t be more excited to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting some of our nation’s most prominent and promising African American science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) achievers and shining a light on the importance of ensuring the Nation’s next generation of inventors, discoverers, and innovators fully reflects the diversity of America.

    President Obama with Evan Jackson, Alec Jackson, and Caleb Robinson at the White House Science Fair, April 22, 2013

    President Barack Obama talks with Evan Jackson, 10, Alec Jackson, 8, and Caleb Robinson, 8, from McDonough, Ga., while looking at exhibits at the White House Science Fair in the State Dining Room, April 22, 2013. The sports-loving grade-schoolers created a new product concept to keep athletes cool and helps players maintain safe body temperatures on the field. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Members of racial and ethnic minority groups are projected to become the majority of America’s population in the next 30 years. Today, however, they account for just 28 percent of America’s STEM workers. We know that for America to remain competitive in a global economy, we need to do all we can to draw upon the nation’s diverse talent pool, which includes historically underrepresented groups in STEM, such as women and minorities.

    That’s why, next week, OSTP is hosting and participating in a series of activities to highlight diverse STEM role models and the urgent need to help minority students across the country envision themselves as tomorrow’s discoverers, explorers, developers, and STEM innovators.

    To kick off our week of activities, join us Tuesday, February 25 at 3:00 pm EST for "We the Geeks: Celebrating Black History Month" 

    In this Google+ Hangout, some of the Nation’s most extraordinary African American STEM innovators and STEM-education advocates will share their inspiring personal stories and thoughts on how we can all step up to help strengthen America’s STEM-skilled workforce by making it broader and more diverse. 

  • Partnering for Action in African American Communities

    Leaders from some of the country’s foremost African American civil rights organizations joined President Obama and a handful of Administration leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House yesterday. To open the meeting, I was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz, Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson and White House Advisor for Health Policy and Implementation Phil Schiliro for a discussion outlining the President’s priorities for this year of action. 

    President Obama Meets with African American Civil Rights Leaders

    President Barack Obama meets with African American civil rights leaders to discuss criminal justice reform, income inequality and the Affordable Care Act, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Feb. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) February 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo)

    Present were leaders from the NAACP, The National Urban League, the National Action Network, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Bar Association and the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation. The group covered a range of issues of great concern to the President, and the African American community, touching on job growth, education and job training, maintaining our momentum in enrolling the uninsured through the Affordable Care Act, bringing more fairness and efficiency to our criminal justice system, increasing the minimum wage, and ensuring ladders of opportunity for all. 

    What was clear in this meeting was that many of the goals the President set forth in his State of the Union address will become reality because of the strong partnerships that he and his administration have forged with leaders from the civil rights community who work hard every day to advocate equality and opportunity for all.

    The President will continue to work with Congress where they are able and willing to act, but meetings like this provide optimistic reminders that there remain other leaders in the country who can act right now – to improve the economy, to ensure greater opportunity for all, and to keep this country moving in the right direction. The capacity for the President and his White House to convene thought leaders, decision makers, and community leaders, all of whom have access to both resources and the audiences we aim to reach, is a powerful tool, and one which President Obama hopes to wield effectively in 2014 for the good of all Americans.

    Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls

  • Sharpening Our Focus to Meet National Goals on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from AIDS.GOV

    As we observe National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) 2014, we are reminded that African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Among African Americans, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (Black MSM) are especially hard hit, representing more than half of all estimated new HIV infections among African Americans each year. A particularly disconcerting estimate in 2010 showed that young Black MSM aged 13 to 24 accounted for the greatest number (4,800) of estimated new HIV infections among African Americans.

    Furthermore, from an analysis of data about African Americans diagnosed with HIV infection from 19 jurisdictions that CDC released yesterday, we know that compared to Black women, Black men — regardless of transmission category — have lower levels of linkage to and retention in HIV care and are less likely to have achieved viral suppression (i.e., have controlled the virus at a level that helps keep them healthy and reduces their risk of transmitting the virus to others). The study also revealed that by transmission category, men with infection attributed to male-to-male sexual contact had the lowest percentage of linkage to care.

    These disparities highlight that, despite important strides that have been made toward national HIV prevention, care and treatment goals, we clearly have more work to do as a nation to effectively address HIV among Black MSM, especially with regard to outcomes along the HIV care continuum [PDF 1.9MB].

    The National HIV/AIDS Strategy highlights both the disproportionate impact of HIV among MSM in the U.S., the concentration of HIV among Black MSM within the African American community, and clearly states that “the United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men.” The Strategy also observes that our national commitment to this population has not always been commensurate with their disproportionate burden of HIV. 

    So, as we mark the annual observance of NBHAAD, we all—both individually and collectively—are called to be even more thoughtful, creative, and focused about actions we can undertake to strengthen HIV prevention, testing, care and treatment for Black MSM in communities across the United States. 

    Among federal programs, several important activities are underway in this regard: 

    • Increasing the capacity, quality, and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS service providers to serve Black MSMApplications are due later this month for a new Resource/TA Center for HIV Prevention and Care for Black MSM being supported by HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau. To assist HIV service and other healthcare providers, the new center will identify, compile, and disseminate best practices and effective models for HIV clinical care and treatment across the HIV care continuum for adult and young Black MSM ages 13 to 24.
    • Promoting and supporting HIV testing among Black MSM – CDC’s Testing Makes Us Stronger social marketing campaign encourages Black MSM to get tested for HIV. Through compelling campaign ads in national magazines and on targeted websites, as well as through local advertising and materials distribution in target cities, CDC emphasizes the importance of getting tested for HIV regularly to help stop the spread of the epidemic. The campaign also includes a Facebook  page and a dedicated website with a suite of campaign materials available for individuals and organizations to download and distribute. Complementing this important outreach campaign, CDC makes significant investments in both health departments and community-based organizations to support high impact prevention activities, including testing.  
    • Supporting engagement in HIV care – The HHS Office for Civil Rights’ Information is Powerful Medicine campaign focuses specifically on Black MSM, underscoring how having access to your medical records can help you better manage your health. Access to this information empowers patients to track their progress, monitor their lab results, communicate with their treatment teams, and adhere to their important treatment plans. The campaign also provides information on e-health tools, such as the “Blue Button,” which make it easier, safer, and faster for consumers to get access to their health information.
    • Strengthening state efforts for Black MSM – Under the Care and Prevention and Prevention of HIV in the U.S. (CAPUS) demonstration project, several of the eight participating states are focusing their efforts specifically on Black MSM. The three-year demonstration project is supported by the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund and seeks to support these states, each with disproportionately high burdens of HIV/AIDS among minority communities, to improve HIV testing, engagement, and retention in care among racial and ethnic minorities. In Illinois, for example, the state health department has launched a youth of color-specific initiative in East St. Louis to co-locate medical (including LGBT health), psychosocial, prevention and support services in a single setting by collaborating with the local health department and community-based organizations in East St. Louis, Illinois and across the river in St. Louis, Missouri.
    • Supporting Implementation Research – The focus of the ongoing NIH-supported HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 073  study is determining the willingness of Black MSM to use a daily antiretroviral pill as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Studies such as HPTN 073 are critical in bridging our understanding between biomedical advances in HIV prevention and behavioral, social and structural factors that are often in play. 

    “We are greatly encouraged that many of these federal activities are consistent with recommendations made during our 2012 consultation with community leaders and federal partners about HIV among Black MSM,” notes Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases. “These efforts, and many more underway at the federal as well as state and local levels, are vital to reducing new HIV infections among Black MSM and to improving outcomes all along the HIV care continuum for this disproportionately impacted population.”

    Timothy Harrison is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

  • Champion of African American History: Carter G. Woodson

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from The Huffington Post.

    In the fall of 1870, a handful of students made their way through the northwest quadrant of the nation's capital, and through the doors of D.C.'s "Preparatory High School for Colored Youth," the country's first public high school for African American children. There, in the shadow of the American Civil War, and dawned with the spark of reconstruction, a converted basement-turned-classroom in the lower floor of Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church bore the seeds of Dunbar High School, which would become one of the country's preeminent institutions for African American educational achievement. The students and teachers who graced its hallways would be heard through the years in the halls of Congress, in the highest ranks of the U.S. military, at the heart of our civil rights movement, and in the upper echelons of medical and scientific study.

    One such voice was that of Carter G. Woodson; a journalist, author, historian, and co-founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). It was through his work with the ASNLH that Woodson spearheaded the celebration of "Negro History Week" in America, which served as the precursor to Black History Month, which was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976.