Eddie Glaude, the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and chair of Princeton’s Center for African American Studies. Courtesy of Princeton University.
AVI: President Obama announced a major plan to improve the lives of young men of color yesterday afternoon. He’s calling $200 million dollar initiative “My Brother’s Keeper” and it’ll be funded by nine private foundations. In his speech announcing the program, the president talked about his own experience growing up.
OBAMA: I didn’t have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realized at the time. I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short.
KATE: More than 80 percent of black and Hispanic boys read below proficiency levels by the fourth grade. And young men of color are six times as likely to be murdered than young white men.
OBAMA: And all of this translates into higher unemployment rates and poverty rates as adults.
KATE: And so, the president says this initiative will pay for more pre-K education, literacy programs, and for schools to generally do more to keep young men of color engaged. As these boys grow up, Obama hopes businesses will then train and hire them.
OBAMA: We need to give every child, no matter what they look like, where they live, a chance to reach their full potential.
AVI: The president has created a task force which has ninety days to look at programs focused on improving the lives of men of color and see what works.
KATE: To talk more about what the President proposed, I talked with Eddie Glaude. He teaches African American history and religion at Princeton. He says the program is bigger than funding some programs here and there. Many of the issues are about public policy. Government needs to do more.