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Obama Assures Cummings of Minority Outreach

Obama Assures Cummings of Minority Outreach

By RealClearPolitics Staff - August 1, 2013

When President Obama met with House Democrats on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland asked the president about efforts to help minorities and at-risk youth, especially in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case and following Obama’s personal remarks last month about the need for a public “soul searching” on race in America.

According to Politico, Cummings urged Obama not to let the national moment pass without harnessing the administration’s efforts to help at-risk and minority youth. The president agreed, telling his audience, “We’re doing that,” according to the report.

Obama is expected to pick up the themes of equal justice and opportunity during events to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, planned for Aug. 27-28.

Among the initiatives the president and his administration have supported are the Becoming a Man program, anchored in low-income public high schools in his adopted hometown. Obama met with participants in Chicago in February and hosted some of the young men at the White House in June.

First lady Michelle Obama has headlined events targeted to youth empowerment, especially after the shooting death of Chicago’s Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honors student. In April, for example, Mrs. Obama spoke at a Chicago luncheon focused on curbing youth violence, saying, “Thousands of children in this city live in neighborhoods where a funeral for a teenager is considered unfortunate, but not unusual; where wandering onto the wrong block or even just standing on your own front porch can mean putting yourself at risk. Those are the odds that so many young people are facing in this city -- young people like Hadiya Pendleton, whose funeral I attended back in February.”

Both Obamas have devoted personal time to mentoring minority youngsters, recognizing their unique standing as role models.

In addition to existing programs within the executive branch aimed at crime prevention, racial justice and increasing youth employment and job training, the president in the spring launched “Youth Jobs +,” an administration endeavor to mix public-, private-sector and nonprofit know-how to help employ young people, especially in poor and underserved communities.

White House aides believe Obama’s latest push for his economic agenda -- which includes a blend of infrastructure investments, community college and career training initiatives, and an expansion of manufacturing “hubs” around the country -- is part of his answer to Cummings’ question.

Next week, the president will travel to Phoenix to examine the recovery in the housing sector, which was hard hit in the recession, and talk about education. In September, he will give a speech about the Affordable Care Act and the Oct. 1 invitation to Americans who don’t have insurance or want to shop for lower-cost coverage to go online to new state-based marketplaces and examine plans offered by private insurers.

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