Blog Posts Related to the African American Community

  • Securing the Vote for All Americans

    Yesterday, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez met with civil rights leaders, and state and local elected officials at the White House to discuss how to safeguard every eligible American’s right to vote in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on Shelby County vs. Holder.

    President Barack Obama meets with Civil Rights leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

    President Barack Obama meets with Civil Rights Leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    The Supreme Court’s decision invalidating one of the Voting Rights Act’s core provisions, upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.

    President Obama acknowledged that for nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans, and expressed deep disappointment about the recent decision.  He asked the leaders in the room for their ideas on how to strengthen voting rights, and also encouraged them to continue educating their communities on the Voting Rights Act, and how to exercise voting rights.

  • The Game of Change Comes to the White House

    Today, President Obama met with members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers championship team, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of their Division I basketball title.

    President Barack Obama greets members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers.

    President Barack Obama greets members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers NCAA Championship men's basketball team in the Oval Office, July 11, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On March 15, 1963, the Ramblers played Mississippi State in a regional semifinal game known as the Game of Change.

    The year: 1963, right in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. The team: The Loyola Ramblers, coached by George Ireland. The controversy: The Ramblers started four African-American players on the “Iron Five” lineup, even though the unwritten rules of college basketball allowed only two African-American players to start, and an unwritten law in Mississippi wouldn’t allow play against integrated teams.

    Earlier in the year, the Ramblers had won 20 consecutive games and earned a tournament berth. The Game of Change took place in East Lansing, Michigan. The all-white Mississippi State team snuck into Michigan in defiance of an injunction issued by the Governor of Mississippi that was intended to prohibit the game.  

    Judy Van Dyck, the daughter of the Head Coach, George Ireland, accompanied the team today. She told me that she remembered her father saying, with tears in his eyes, that the time had come for change, that these were his kids, and he wanted to make a difference so that no other kids would have to go through what they went through.

    And that’s just what happened.

    The Ramblers won 61-51. Before tip-off, photographers captured one of the great moments in college sports history when Loyola captain Jerry Harkness, and Mississippi State captain Joe Dan Gold shook hands at center court. The team gave President Obama a framed copy of that famous photo today.

  • Honoring Our Civil Rights Heroes

    Fifty years ago, America was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. Countless men and women demonstrated, protested, sacrificed, and bled for their right to be treated equally. In the last two weeks, we remembered a few of these heroes at the White House.

    Visit with Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of Medgar Evers

    President Barack Obama embraces Myrlie Evers-Williams during her visit in the Oval Office, June 4, 2013.

    President Barack Obama embraces Myrlie Evers-Williams during her visit in the Oval Office, June 4, 2013. The President met with the Evers family to commemorate the approaching 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers' death. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, President Obama visited with Myrlie Evers-Williams, a civil rights heroine and widow of Medgar Evers, and other members of the Evers family, to commemorate Medgar Evers’ life and contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. President Obama said during the visit that Medgar Evers was a warrior for justice, and the tragedy of his death turned into a rallying cry for a movement.

    Fifty years ago, on June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was shot and killed in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi.

    After serving in World War II, Evers returned to Mississippi and dedicated his life to the pursuit of civil rights and equality in the South. He became the NAACP’s first Field Secretary for Mississippi, where he organized boycotts of businesses that denied basic services to African Americans, and he fought for school integration. The murder of Medgar Evers, and resulting trial, inspired civil rights protests across the nation. Evers is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and, after more than 30 years, his killer was finally brought to justice in 1994.

  • White House Champions of Change: Seeking Immigrant Innovators and Entrepreneurs

    The White House Champions of Change program highlights the stories of people across the country who are strengthening their communities and moving America forward.

    In just a few weeks, the White House Office of Public Engagement will host a Champions of Change event focused on immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs – the best and brightest from around the world who are helping create American jobs, grow our economy, and make our nation more competitive.

    The facts are clear Immigrants make America more prosperous and entrepreneurial. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business in the United States as the native-born, and more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies from GE and Ford to Google and Yahoo! were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.

    Moreover, immigrants generate extraordinary innovation as scientists and engineers. Immigrants represent 50 percent of PhDs working in math and computer science and 57 percent of PhDs working in engineering. By some estimates, immigration was responsible for one third of the explosive growth in patenting in past decades, and these innovations contributed to increasing U.S. GDP by 2.4 percent.

    We are asking for your help to identify immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs who may be "Champions of Change." For example, a champion could be the founder of a growing U.S. company, or a graduate student working on breakthrough research at a U.S. university.

    Nominate an immigrant innovator or entrepreneur as a Champion of Change.

    (Under "Theme of Service," choose "Immigrant Innovators and Entrepreneurs".)

    Please submit nominations no later than 6pm ET on Sunday, May 12.

    We also encourage you to learn more about President Obama's plan to fix our broken immigration system and share your own immigration story.

  • Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. With Our Lives

    Today marks the 45th anniversary of the death of one of America’s great heroes and a giant of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Dr. King was working on the frontlines of a movement in Memphis to support the sanitation workers on strike when his life was taken. It was there that he gave his last speech, I’ve Been on a Mountaintop.

    Today, we pause and reflect on Dr. King’s extraordinary life and his tireless work to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. We stand on the shoulders of so many of our Civil Rights heroes who we’ve lost, such as Dr. King, Dorothy Height, and Rosa Parks. Yet their legacy continues.   

    This August, we also mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, when thousands descended upon the capital to rally for civil and economic rights for all Americans. It was there, at the Lincoln Memorial, that Dr. King gave his most iconic speech, I Have a Dream.

    Since Dr. King’s untimely and tragic death, we have strived to advance his ideals and realize his dream for all Americans to have the same economic and social opportunities.

  • President Obama Meets with Leaders of Sierra Leone, Senegal, Malawi, and Cape Verde

    Today President Obama welcomed President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde to the White House.  The United States has strong partnerships with these countries based on shared democratic values and shared interests.  Each of these leaders has undertaken significant efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, protect and expand human rights and civil liberties, and increase economic opportunities for their people. 

    President Obama and the visiting leaders discussed how the United States can expand our partnership to support their efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and promote economic opportunity, both in their countries and across sub-Saharan Africa.  A particular focus of the conversation was on the importance of transparency and respect for human rights, and President Obama commended each leader for their work in these areas and their commitment to join the Open Government Partnership.  President Obama also commended these leaders for their leadership on food security and engaged the leaders in a fruitful conversation about how the United States can help Africa harness the potential of its young people and empower the next generation of African leaders.