By Ismael AbduSalaam
Last night (July 16), President Barack Obama made an impassioned speech to the NAACP on the topics of education and personal responsibility.
The speech marked another milestone in the young presidency of Barack Obama, whose address commemorated the NAACPís 100th anniversary convention.
President Obama acknowledged that those born in the inner-city face stronger adversity in the realms of economics and violent crimes.
Still, he argued these elements were no excuses for students or parents to neglect their responsibilities.
ďYes, if youíre African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that someone in a wealthy suburb does not,í President Obama stated. ďBut thatís not a reason to get bad grades, thatís not a reason to cut class, thatís not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands Ė and donít you forget that. To parents, we canít tell our kids to do well in school and fail to support them when they get home. For our kids to excel, we must accept our own responsibilities. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences, reading to our kids, and helping them with their homework.Ē
With the undeniable huge influence of Hip-Hop and sports on African-American youth culture, Obama noted that education should be utilized by parents to show children their potential extends beyond entertainment.
ďThey might think theyíve got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids canít all aspire to be the next LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers,Ē The President detailed. ďI want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court Justice. I want them aspiring to be President of the United States. So, yes, government must be a force for opportunity. Yes, government must be a force for equality. But ultimately, if we are to be true to our past, then we also have to seize our own destiny, each and every day.Ē
The NAACP was founded in 1909 by the nationís most influential African-Americans, including scholar W.E.B. DuBois, activist Ida B. Wells, and attorney Archibald Grimke.