In a speech Monday in the Bronx announcing the expansion of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative for young men of color, President Obama directly addressed the ongoing strife in Baltimore in the wake of Freddie Gray’s killing, MSNBC reports.
Obama spoke of a “sense of unfairness, and of powerlessness” among protesters in Baltimore and elsewhere who have demonstrated against police violence in recent months. The president acknowledged that black and Latino men are often “treated differently” than other citizens by law enforcement.
Launched in February 2014, My Brother’s Keeper seeks to “address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.” The expansion creates the privately funded nonprofit My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which aims to increase educational opportunities for tens of thousands of students of color. The president said Monday that $80 million has been invested in the alliance so far.
“This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle not just for the rest of my presidency but for the rest of my life,” Obama said, hinting at his plans beyond 2016. “I grew up without a dad. I grew up lost sometimes and adrift, not having a sense of a clear path. The only difference between me and a lot of the other young men in this neighborhood and all across the country is that I grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving,” the president said. “Really that’s what this comes down to: Do we love these kids?”