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President Barack Obama is serious about uplifting Black boys and young men of color. One senior White House advisor told me that Obama wants constant status updates on “My Brother’s Keeper,” – a national initiative designed to empower Black boys and young men of color.

This is not just a mundane government project for Obama, not just another federal spreadsheet. It’s an opportunity for the nation’s first Black president to actually change lives and improve the quality of life for many African-American and Latino boys and young men who have been disenfranchised by a racially-imbalanced society.

The advisor said the President frequently assembles his top aides, asks hard questions about “My Brother’s Keeper,” and expects timely and detailed answers. Obama knows firsthand the challenges facing Black boys, especially since his father was not a part of his life. He knows that boys of color are too often born into poverty and live with a single parent.

He knows there are some school districts in Black communities where the school dropout rates remain high. He knows too many of these boys and young men will have run-ins with police and end up revolving through the criminal justice system.

“Earlier this year, I launched something we’re calling “My Brother’s Keeper,” and I think that many of you recall me talking in very personal terms about someone who grew up without a father and made some mistakes when I was young, but benefitted from the love and attention and opportunities that were given to me during the course of growing up, and the fact that we have too many young men of color — Black boys and young men, Latino boys and young men — who are adrift and don’t have those same opportunities and don’t have those same structures of support,” Obama said.

COMMENTARY: Obama’s Greatest Legacy: Empowering Young Men of Color  was originally published on

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