“We’ve got no time for excuses – not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t,” the president added. “Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there.”
But not everyone was accepting of Obama’s speech. Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University, said Obama’s address didn’t go far enough and that Obama should have told Morehouse students that he’s “sorry” for not doing more for black men.
Still, Obama has been focusing on a myriad of challenges facing young black men as he begins his second term in the White House. Earlier this year, Obama traveled to the South Side of Chicago and spoke to 16 black male students who are growing up poor, troubled, and some without fathers in their lives.
The students, who attend Hyde Park Academy High School, are part of an anti-youth violence program called “Becoming A Man” (B.A.M.) that teaches at-risk students about violence prevention, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression and respect for women.
“This is very personal for him because he didn’t have a father,” Jarrett said of the president during a one-hour session at the White House with six African American journalists in February. “He was raised by a single mom so he knows the challenges.”
“I think he takes his role as a mentor very seriously and he leads by example,” said Jarrett, perhaps the president’s most trusted White House confidant.
Meanwhile, at Morehouse College on Sunday, Obama urged students to be responsible black men.
“Keep setting an example for what it means to be a man,” the president said. “Be the best husband to your wife, or boyfriend to your partner, or father to your children that you can be. Because nothing is more important.”
“I know that when I’m on my deathbed someday, I won’t be thinking about any particular legislation I passed, or policy I promoted; I won’t be thinking about the speech I gave, or the Nobel Prize I received,” Obama said. “I’ll be thinking about a walk I took with my daughters. A lazy afternoon with my wife. Whether I did right by all of them.”