By Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Since taking the oath of office, President Obama has achieved a lot, at home and abroad.
He brought our economy back from the brink of a great depression, reduced unemployment to less than five percent and oversaw 76 consecutive months of private sector job growth.
On the global stage, he negotiated a deal that prevented Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, opened a new chapter in US-Cuba relations and strengthened our ties with African nations.
There is no question that his legacy as one of our nation’s greatest presidents is secure.
But perhaps is most lasting legacy in our community will be his work to uplift and empower young African Americans. For the first time, our nation is addressing the systemic issues that create unfair barriers for young people of color.
Critically, he established the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and brought key players, from private industry, non-profits and public office, together to empower young men of color.
I’m so proud to have supported this groundbreaking initiative. As a mother and grandmother, this issue is particularly relevant to me.
And as a Member of Congress, I am so proud to have the first Boys & Men of Color Summit hosted in Oakland.
This summit is another important step toward expanding access to opportunity and improving the lives of our young people and our community. But it is also a call to action for us to actively participate in the preparing young men of color to succeed.
Far too often, young people of color, especially young men, are written off. Whether it’s the media or government officials, young men of color face a nearly insurmountable double standard. At the same time, communities of color suffer from a criminal lack of investment and prioritization.
From health disparities and education to higher unemployment rates and police brutality, men of color are shortchanged at every turn.
That is why the President’s leadership in creating My Brother’s Keeper is so important.
Instead of writing off these young men, this program creates access to opportunity. By setting up young men of color for success, our communities can thrive and the economy will grow.
Since its inception in 2014, nearly 50 communities in every state have accepted the My Brother’s Keeper challenge to ensure that all young people—no matter who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances into which they are born—can achieve their full potential.
This is a challenge that I and others have accepted. Will you?
Already, more than $600 million in private and philanthropic grants have been committed to ensure every child has a clear pathway of success from cradle to college to career.
While we are making process, our work is far from over.
As this summit kicks off, we must continue to work, collectively and collaboratively, to create paths of success so young people of color can realize their full potential.