19 February, 2017


ISBN:  9781498430685
Author:  Dr. H. Jean Wright ii
Publisher:   Harris Author Services

               Many of the 7.5 billion souls who occupy this space and place we know as Planet Earth live, work, and raise families in environments that are spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally toxic which serve as breeding grounds for  hopelessness, stress, mental illness, violence, and mass incarceration.    While many of us have access to phenomenal career and educational opportunities and witnessed great human achievements that our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents could only dream about, we are still struggling to provide for our families.  We find ourselves wallowing in hopelessness -- unable to build on the legacy of and sacrifices made by those who have gone before and build a bridge to the future for our children and our children’s children.   

Why are we so stressed out?  Why are our homes, work places, and communities psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally toxic?

            On page six of the Introduction for his book, “Find Strength In Your Struggle: Discover The Miracle In You,” Dr. H. Jean Wright II offers a few answers:

            “Most would agree that our society has been subjected to numerous negative events.  Our recent history is marked by many natural disasters, such as tsunamis, horrific earthquakes, and a myriad of man-made disasters, terrorist acts, wars, rumors of wars, and greed and mismanagement so extreme that not long ago, national and international financial markets and institutions were nearly brought to collapse.  Not surprisingly, people are succumbing to devastating and preventable human conditions, such as disease, starvation, and homelessness. . . . Individuals suffer the greatest of adverse physical psychological, emotional, and spiritual reactions to the chaos and confusion of trying to survive in a violent and troubled world, while facing the daily grind of a hectic life.”

At the same time, Dr. Wright informs us that we experience stress in “good times”, too.  As examples, he points to getting a new job and the pressure it brings to perform; moving our family to a new house in a new neighborhood; raising children, or traveling abroad for a vacation as sources of stress. 

            In “Find Strength In Your Struggle:  Discover The Miracle In You,” Dr. Wright takes aim at “spiritual depression” which can be described as a loss or lack of hope.  Wright whose professional training is in clinical and forensic psychology, explores spiritual depression in the family, the church, and in the individual and reminds us that “trials come with blessings”.

          “Find Strength In Your Struggle:  Discover The Miracle In You”, is an empowering blueprint crafted by Dr. Wright which connects the dots between spirituality, physical health, emotional well-being, and positive mental strength and resilience and moves the reader to “thrive” and not just “survive”!  A key “piece of the puzzle” to transforming our spiritually, psychologically, and emotional toxic global village into a nurturing and vibrant oasis, “Find Strength In Your Struggle:  Discover The Miracle In You,” which is available on at 1498430686, is recommended reading for leaders and members of interfaith organizations, religious leaders, educators, school administrators, law enforcement professionals, legal professionals, business leaders, the general public, legislators, health care professionals and providers and social services professionals and providers.

17 February, 2017



Mr. Lethukuthula Nkomo
Chair, South Africa International Men’s Day “Teach Us Peace” Children’s Initiative


            GAUTENG, JOHANNESBURG (SOUTH AFRICA) 17 February 2017 ---   Created to educate orphans and vulnerable children, Africa House College is committed to primarily contribute to the generation of balanced sustainable economy growth and its population and to promote prosperity for all citizens in South Africa.   It is a mission it accomplishes by educating South African children from the ages of 4 through 18.   Under the leadership of Mr. Lethukuthula Nkomo, Chair of the South Africa International Men’s Day “Teach Us Peace” Children’s Literacy Initiative, children enrolled at Africa House College will participate in the initiative.  Africa House College is the first educational institution to participate in the International Men’s Day “Teach Us Peace” Initiative which is a global initiative created under the International Men’s Day Banner.       

           “Students at the Africa House School will be the first group of children in our global village to participate in the South Africa International Men’s Day ‘Teach Us Peace’ Children's Literacy Initiative.  South Africa is the first nation in our global village to participate in this global initiative which gives children – the Next Generation of Leaders, Husbands, Fathers, Wives, and Mothers -- a voice through the written word – essays and poems -- and at the same time provides children with an opportunity to hone their literacy skills.  When I look at the children of South Africa,  the children who attend the Africa House School, and children in other nations, I find myself asking, ‘What do these souls think about?  What do they care about?  What type of world do they want to live in when they mature into adults?,”  Mr. Nkomo remarked who is also a Contributing Editor to IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD®, a quarterly Fatherhood and Men’s Issues Journal which is published in the United States and distributed online in Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, and Europe.   

          Approximately 2.2 million of the 7.5 billion souls who occupy Planet Earth are children.  The key challenges of violence – physical and psychological, poverty, hunger, lack of access to adequate physical and mental health resources and support services, Fatherlessness, ethnic and religious intolerance, mass incarceration, an unlevel educational playing field, and illiteracy have a traumatizing impact upon these souls as they make their journey from childhood to adulthood.   Through the International Men’s Day “Teach Us Peace” Children’s Literacy Initiative, the Adults of the World will not only learn how these key challenges are negatively impacting these 2.2 million souls, but will also learn  from these 2.2 million souls – our children – how these key challenges should be addressed.   The International Men’s Day “Teach Peace” Children’s Literacy Initiative gives our global village’s 2.2 million souls who are children a forum of their own to share their vision for the world through essays and poems which will be published in the CHILDREN’S CORNER segment of IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD®, a quarterly international Fatherhood and Men’s Issues Journal and on the CHILDREN’S CORNER blog at http://buildingabridgetothefuture.              

          To learn more about the South Africa International Men’s Day “Teach Us Peace” Initiative, contact its Chair, Mr. Lethukuthula Nkomo by sending an e-mail to:               

          To learn more about the International Men’s Day “Teach Peace” Children’s Literacy Initiative and how your child can participate, send and e-mail to: or call 267-581-3963.

13 February, 2017


P R E S S    R E L E A S E



TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO                                                  
Jerome Teelucksingh, Ph.D.                                         
Founder – International Men’s Day                                 
Chair, International Men’s Day Coordination Committee                                                                         

Glen Poole – Coordinator
Member, International Men’s Day Coordination Committee

UNITED STATES                                                         
Diane A. Sears – Coordinator                                        
Member, International Men's Day Coordination Committee                                                                      
Chair, USA 2012-2022 International Men’s Day Ten Year Plan Committee
Chair, ,International Men’s Day “Teach Us Peace” Children’s Literacy Initiative                                               

Geneuvive Twala - Coordinator
Member, International Men’s Day Coordination Committee
Chair, Botswana 2012-2022 International Ten Year Plan Committee                                                                    

David Hatfield – Coordinator                                         
Member, International Men’s Coordination Committee                                                                             

Uma Kiranam
Member, International Men’s Coordination Committee

Jorge Vila – Coordinator
Member, International Men’s Coordination  Committee


             TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – 13 February 2017 --  Approximately  3.6 billion souls of the 7.5 billion souls who occupy this space and place we know as Planet Earth are males – Men and Boys  -- Homeless Men and Boys, Incarcerated Men, Married Men, Divorced Men, Single Men, Men who are Fathers, physically and mentally disabled Men and Boys, Men and Boys who live in poverty, Men and Boys who are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and agnostics, Men and Boys who are poor or rich, educated or uneducated, Men and Boys of diverse ethnicities and Men and Boys who speak different languages – French, Urdu, Spanish, English, Portugese, Swahili, Xhosa, Arabic, Gaelic, German, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Italian, Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi/Lahnda. The experiences of Men and Boys are as diverse as their age, levels of education, religion, ethnicity, language, and culture.    Diversity should evoke celebration and understanding.  In an effort to encourage individuals, institutions, and organizations throughout our global village to celebrate the diversity of Men and Boys, 2017 International Men’s Day will be observed under the theme, “Celebrating Men And Boys In All Their Diversity”.

            Global and Regional Coordinators for 2017 International Men’s Day are encouraging individuals, organizations, and institutions throughout our global village to engage in solutions-based dialogues that create pathways for designing, implementing, and supporting initiatives which recognize the diversity of Men and Boys – particularly their experiences which are shaped, in part, as an example, by socio-economic status, ethnic and religious bias, language, and culture.    “Celebrating Men And Boys In All Their Diversity” is a “Call To Action” for individuals, institutions, and organizations to innovate the manner in which they design and deliver resources and support services which speak to the unique needs and issues of Men and Boys which addresses their diversity and to refrain from utilizing an “one-size-fits-all” approach to creating tools for Men and Boys that help them empower themselves and strengthen the communities in which they live.  

          Inaugurated in Trinidad and Tobago on 19 November 1999 by Jerome Teelucksingh, Ph.D., a Gender Issues Thought Leader, humanitarian, faculty member in the History Department of the University of West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, a prolific author and poet, International Men’s Day celebrates and honors the contributions and sacrifices of Men -_ “everyday men”.  The worldwide observance shares a 48-hour partnership with Universal Children’s Day which is observed on 20th November of each year and is endorsed by the United Nations.  To date, over 80 nations observe International Men’s Day.

        International Men’s Day is a day of observance in which we place our focus on that which unites humanity giving everyone who wants to celebrate International Men’s Day the opportunity to help work towards our shared objectives which we apply equally to men and boys irrespective of their age, ability, social background, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, religious belief and relationship status.

Those objectives are:

·         To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sports men but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.

·         To celebrate men’s positive contributions; to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment

·         To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual

·         To highlight discrimination against males; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law

·         To improve gender relations and promote gender equality

·         To create a safer, better world, where all people can grow and reach their full potential.

                    For further information about International Men’s Day, visit its website at or contact any of the Coordinators listed above.

30 January, 2017


          Souls of all Faiths are expected to observe World Interfaith Harmony Week from 1 February 2017 through 7 February 2017.  World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed by His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan on 23 September 2010 and unanimously adopted by the United Nations on 20 October 2010.  Cognizant of the need for religious tolerance and collaboration and dialogue between individuals of all faiths, the United States International Men’s Day Team has endorsed World Interfaith Harmony Week and has also designated the month of February 2017 as International Men’s Day World Interfaith Harmony Month.   

            World Interfaith Harmony Week is based upon The Common Word Initiative created in 2007 which called for Muslim and Christian leaders to come together in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments – “Love of God” and “Love of the Neighbor”.  Observers of World Interfaith Harmony Week are being asked to extend the dialogue to include “Love of the Good” which creates a greater sense of inclusivity for the event.
          The United States International Men’s Day Team’s endorsement of World Interfaith Harmony Week along with the decision to extend its observance by designating the month of February 2017 as International Men’s Day World Interfaith Harmony Month grows out of its work beginning in 2014 to help end religious intolerance.   Eradicating religious intolerance is a key “piece of the puzzle” to creating a safer and better world for everyone.   The United States International Men’s Day Team is encouraging Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and even those souls of  ‘no faith’ to engage each other in meaningful dialogue that will lead to building bridges of understanding and dismantling walls that are a source of disharmony and divisiveness. 

17 January, 2017


IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD(R) is pleased to announce that it is
the Online Publisher for OPERATION FRESH START (TM)
authored by
The Honorable James M. Deleon.

Operation  Fresh Start™ is a multi-tiered Pardon and Expungement Diversion Initiative crafted by The Honorable James M. DeLeon, a veteran jurist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which creates a global blueprint for bringing together key stakeholders for the purpose of creating pathways of reintegration for incarcerated souls while simultaneously fostering economic sustainability and the strengthening of families in the communities these souls will return to upon their release. 

To obtain a copy of OPERATION FRESH START (TM), contact IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD(R) at :

09 January, 2017


Did you know there is an international Men’s Day? Yes there is and it occurs worldwide on the 19th November every year.

Before you scoff at the concept of an international men’s day while there is an international women’s day and an international children’s day spare thought!

No! For us in Nigeria, International Men’s Day is not about men showing off their wealth or coming together to drink alcohol and ‘chase women’ which is usually what comes to the mind of an average person when thinking of the gathering of Men. A derogatory misconception usually accorded to all Men.

International Men's Day is a day for men to come together to hold various discussions on how men are perceived by men themselves, women and children and view areas of gender understanding both at home and the workplace. This is not a "one-off" and topics of discussion are going to be varied and structured based on national and international consciousness.

For example, we propose to schedule a seminar that will discuss the topic of boy’s education led by men. There is also the topic of mental wellness of boys of all ages that should be taught by men who have proven to be proper role models for all the right reasons not he wrong ones.

Another vital discourse for International Men's Day in Nigeria is to address the ‘garbage’ lumped on men which men end up lumping on themselves thinking this ‘garbage’ is expected of them, financially, physically and mentally. This has largely occurred through a distortion of what is what is usually excused as ‘culture’.

Judging by the increasing horror stories of women’s violence towards men and vice versa that is reported and read in the national tabloids and those heard and unreported, it is apparent this conversation is needed

From February 2017, International Men's Day Nigeria intends to hold seminars each month until November 2017 in venues and online. We will discuss further on all topics that confront men globally and in present day Nigeria. This will also include the cultural conundrum of maintaining a 18-19th century mentality while living in 21st century capitalist society and country.

So the concept that still prevails in this climate is that ‘you are the man it is your responsibility to feed, clothe and do all for your ‘wife’ when both of you are working and earn the same amount of money, comes in to question. Also is the reference to children: ‘I gave him two or five children’. Is the production of children not a joint collaboration? This will also come to question as other topics that it is hoped will reconsider the proper role of men in our society away from the stereotypes.

We will discuss what constitute the concept of marriage, while some women will do anything to be called ‘Mrs’ and have children, while resenting their husbands and emotionally abusing them just because they want to have that ‘pride’ of being capable of having children. The same also applies to men. Does all that mindset still work , can it work, and should it work?.

Do men recognize these stereotypes, cultural conflict and conundrums or do they just play to the gallery because they are so scared of not being called ‘A Man’?

Having recently been officially made the Nigerian coordinator of IMD. I kindly ask men to dialogue with us. International Men's Day is not a platform for competition with any women’s organisations or initiative all which are important and worthwhile. Men also need a forum to discuss real issues on self and believe it or not empowerment especially emotionally. IMD is not a platform to score irrelevant points on who is more oppressed Men or Women? That has been the mistake all along that has created glaring gender imbalance.

Men and Women produce children who are boys and girls who will eventually become men and women. We owe the youth and the children in our societies a duty to create and maintain balance for their health in all areas. So let’s talk.

08 January, 2017


Photograph of United States President The Honorable Barack H.  Obama waving as he boards Ai
r Force One extracted from the White House website (

          For the past eight years, the United States of America has been blessed to have one of the Universe’s most brilliant, compassionate, gifted, and dynamic souls  -- The Honorable Barack H. Obama – masterfully hold the reins of power.  In November 2008, the world erupted in joyful celebration upon learning that Americans had elected The Honorable Barack H. Obama as its 44th Commander-in-Chief of the United States. During the months preceding President Obama’s occupancy of the White House, the United States was on the verge of falling off an economic cliff and dragging the rest of the world with it.    With a steady hand, infinite wisdom, and the patience of Job, President Obama steered our nation away from imminent financial disaster.   On 9 March 2009, President Obama walked into the East Room of the White House which was crowded with spectators and removed restrictions on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research by signing an Executive Order.  He also issued a Presidential Memorandum which directed  the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology to “develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making”.

          In recognition of President Obama’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” and his “promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a new climate in international relations, particularly in reaching out to the Muslim world”, on 5 October 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that he was being awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.  After five American Presidents failed to create universal health insurance, under President Obama’s administration, the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010 – legislation which has provided at least 32 million Americans with health care insurance which they did not have access to. In 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to stimulate economic growth in the midst of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after the institution of the stimulus, massive unemployment claims began to subside, and 12 months later, the private sector began producing more jobs – a trend that continued for the next 23 months. Wall Street Reform legislation was passed on President Obama’s watch which tightened capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions and limited their ability to use their customers’ money to trade on the stock market for their own profit.  The ailing auto industry was revitalized by President Obama with an infusion of US$62 billion in federal money which resulted in the auto industry gaining market share and adding 100,000 jobs.  With President Obama at the helm, the United States’ image abroad improved exponentially.  The Pew Global Attitudes Project reported that 10 out of 15 nations viewed the United States favorably.   On 14 July 2015, while visiting the City of Philadelphia where he spoke at the NAACP’s national convention, President Obama issued a national mandate for sweeping criminal justice reform.  President Obama became the first sitting President to visit a federal penitentiary on 16 July 2015 when he walked into the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma where he met with a number of prisoners.  In November 2015, President Obama flew to Paris where he joined leaders from 150 nations at the LeBourge Conference Center to launch a historic two-week conference for the purposes of creating a treaty to dramatically reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas pollution which has been singled out as the culprit for global warming.  The treaty which became known as the “Paris Agreement” was ratified by 115 nations and was subsequently “entered into force” on 4 November 2016.   And on 2 December 2016, the United States Department of Labor issued its monthly Jobs Report for November 2016 which reflected the fact that the national unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%.

              There is no doubt that saving the United States from economic disaster, instituting national health care, spearheading the creation and ratification of the Paris Agreement, issuing a sweeping national mandate for criminal justice reform, and lifting the ban on stem cell research will find their way into the legacy of The Honorable Barack H. Obama’s Presidency.  But there are additional moving parts to President Obama’s legacy.  Fatherhood Practitioners and Father’s Rights Advocates in the United States have yearned for a President who would move Fatherhood to the center of the national radar screen.  At the same time communities throughout America which are raising and educating Boys and Young Men of Color  also yearned for a President who would move the key challenges that these souls faced to the center of the national radar screen.  President Obama did not disappoint. 


            On Friday, 19 June 2009, two days before Father’s Day, President Obama launched a National Conversation on the Importance of Fatherhood and Personal Responsibility by facilitating events across Washington, D.C. and in the White House which cast the spotlight on how Fathers are strengthening families, communities, and themselves. A Father’s Day Proclamation was issued by President Obama which honored the work of strong and committed Fathers.  A number of Washington, D.C. non-profit organizations that mentor and support young men were treated to a visit from President Obama and a group of Fathers and mentors.  After spending time at various non-profit organizations, the President and his entourage of Fathers, mentors, Fatherhood Practitioners and Father’s Rights Advocates returned to the White House to conduct a Town Hall on Fatherhood in the East Room:   President Obama launched the Town Hall on Fatherhood by delivering the following remarks:

"We all know the difference that responsible, committed fathers like these guys can make in the life of a child. Fathers are our first teachers and coaches. They’re our mentors and role models. They set examples of success and push us to succeed ourselves – encouraging us when we’re struggling; loving us even when we disappoint them; standing by us when no one else will," President Obama said during the town hall meeting.

"And when fathers are absent – when they abandon their responsibility to their kids – we know the damage that does to our families. Children who grow up without a father are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison. They’re  more likely to have substance abuse problems, run away from home, and become teenage parents themselves."

And I say this as someone who grew up without a father in my own life. I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it's because of them that I'm able to stand here today. But despite all their extraordinary love and attention, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel my father's absence. That's something that leaves a hole in a child’s heart that a government can't fill.

Our government can build the best schools with the best teachers on Earth, but we still need fathers to ensure that the kids are coming home and doing their homework, and having a book in their hands instead of the TV remote every once in a while. Government can put more cops on the streets, but only fathers can make sure that those kids aren’t on the streets in the first place. Government can create good jobs, but we need fathers to train for these jobs and hold down these jobs and provide for their families.

If we want our children to succeed in life, we need fathers to step up. We need fathers to understand that their work doesn’t end with conception -- that what truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise a child and invest in that child.

We need fathers to be involved in their kids’ lives not just when it’s easy -- not just during the afternoons in the park or at the zoo, when it’s all fun and games -- but when it’s hard, when young people are struggling, and there aren’t any quick fixes or easy answers, and that's when young people need compassion and patience, as well as a little bit of tough love.

Now, this is a challenge even in good times. And it can be especially tough during times like these, when parents have a lot on their minds -- they're worrying about keeping their jobs, or keeping their homes or their health care, paying their bills, trying to give their children the same opportunities that they had. And so it's understandable that parents get concerned, some fathers who feel they can't support their families get distracted. And even those who are more fortunate may be physically present, but emotionally absent .I know that some of the young men who are here today might have their own concerns one day about being a dad. Some of you might be worried that if you didn’t have a father, then you don't know how to be one when your turn comes. Some of you might even use that as an excuse, and say, ‘Well, if my dad wasn’t around, why should I be?’

Let’s be clear: Just because your own father wasn’t there for you, that’s not an excuse for you to be absent also -- it’s all the more reason for you to be present. There’s no rule that says that you have to repeat your father’s mistakes. Just the opposite -- you have an obligation to break the cycle and to learn from those mistakes, and to rise up where your own fathers fell short and to do better than they did with your own children.

That’s what I’ve tried to do in my life. When my daughters were born, I made a pledge to them, and to myself, that I would do everything I could to give them some things I didn’t have. And I decided that if I could be one thing in life, it would  be to be a good father .I haven’t always known exactly how to do that. I’ve made my share of mistakes.   I've had to ask a lot of questions. But I've also learned from men that I admire. And one good example is Michelle’s father, Frasier Robinson, who was a shining example of loving, responsible fatherhood. Here is a man who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 30 years old, but he still got up every day, went to a blue-collar job. By the time I knew him he was using two crutches to get around, but he always was able to get to every dance recital, every ballgame of Michelle's brother. He was there constantly, and helped to shape extraordinary success for his children.

And that’s the standard that I strive for, though I don’t always meet it. And as I’ve said before, I've made mistakes as a parent, and I'm sure I will make plenty more. There have been days when the demands of work have taken me from my duties as a father and I’ve missed some moments in my daughters’ lives that I’ll never get back. So I’ve been far from perfect.

But in the end, it’s not about being perfect. It’s not always about succeeding; but it’s about always trying. And that's something everybody can do. It’s about showing up and sticking with it; and going back at it when you mess up; and letting your kids know -- not just with words, but with deeds -- that you love them and that they're always your first priority.

And we need dads -- but also men who aren’t dads -- to make this kind of commitment, not just in their own homes to their own families, but to the many young people out there who aren’t lucky enough to have responsible adults in their lives. We need committed, compassionate men to serve as mentors and tutors, and big brothers and foster parents.

Even if it’s just for a couple hours a week of shooting hoops, or helping with homework, or just talking about what’s going on in that young person's life. Even the smallest moments can end up having an enormous impact, a lasting impact on a child’s life.

So I am grateful to many of the organizations that are here, that are working on these issues. Some are faith-based; some are not. Some are government funded; some are privately funded. But all of you have those same commitments to making sure that we are lifting up the importance of fatherhood in our communities.

This is not the end, this is the beginning, of what I hope is going to be a national dialogue. And we're going to have regional town hall meetings

President Obama also announced the next steps for his Fatherhood Agenda.  The President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative was launched which is targeting Fatherlessness in America by creating partnerships with Fatherhood groups, role models, and organizations that provide services to families such as the National Parents and Teachers Association and Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.  The President also provided funding through the Department of Labor for transitional jobs programs for Non-Custodial parents who experience difficulty in finding employment.   And the Regional Fatherhood Town Hall meetings President mentioned during his speech in the White House’s East Room on Friday, 19 June 2009 were conducted in Chicago, Illinois on 5 August 2009; Manchester, New Hampshire on 23 September 2009; Atlanta, Georgia on 15 December 2009; and Toledo, Ohio on 2 December 2011.

            In 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum which established the My Brother’s Keeper (“MBK”) Task Force – a coordinated Federal effort to address some of the key challenges that prevent Boys and Young Men of Color from reaching their full potential.  The move also silenced the rising sentiment emanating from the President’s detractors that his administration had failed to do anything to help America’s Black community. 

Christian Champagne, 18, of Chicago, Illinois  (left) introduces  United States President, The Honorable Barack H. Oba (right) at a White House event on 27 February 2014 where the President introduced the nation to the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (Photograph extracted from the white house website –

             On 27 February 2014, Christian Champagne, an 18 year old native of Chicago, Illinois stared into a sea of bright lights of television news cameras and the camera lens of photojournalists from around the nation as he stood in front of the podium in the East Room of the White House and rendered a flawless introduction of the President of the United States,   On the heels of Christian Champagne’s introduction, President Obama delivered remarks which heralded the launch of the My Brother’s Keepers Initiative.  Let’s listen to the President’s speech . . .

“Welcome to the White House. And thank you, Christian, for that outstanding introduction. . . . Like your parents and your teachers, I could not be prouder of you.  I could not be prouder of the other young men who are here today.  But just so we’re clear -- you're only excused for one day of school.  And I'm assuming you’ve got your assignments with you so that you can catch up -- perhaps even on the flight back.

As Christian mentioned, I first met Christian about a year ago. I visited the Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, which is only about a mile from my house. And Christian was part of this program called ‘Becoming A Man’. It's a program that Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced to me. And it helps young men who show a lot of potential but may have gotten in some trouble to stay on the right path. They get help with schoolwork, but they also learn life skills like how to be a responsible citizen, and how to deal with life’s challenges, and how to manage frustrations in a constructive way, and how to set goals for themselves. And it works. One study found that, among young men who participate in the BAM program, arrests for violent crimes dropped 44 percent, and they were more likely to graduate from high school. 

So as Christian mentioned, during my visit, they’re in a circle and I sat down in the circle, and we went around, led by their counselor, and guys talked about their lives, talked about their stories. They talked about what they were struggling with, and how they were trying to do the right thing, and how sometimes they didn’t always do the right thing. And when it was my turn, I explained to them that when I was their age I was a lot like them. I didn’t have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time.  I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short.

 And I remember when I was saying this -- Christian, you may remember this -- after I was finished, the guy sitting next to me said, ‘Are you talking about you?’ I said, ‘Yes.’  And the point was I could see myself in these young men. And the only difference is that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving, so when I made a mistake the consequences were not as severe.  I had people who encouraged me -- not just my mom and grandparents, but wonderful teachers and community leaders -- and they’d push me to work hard and study hard, and make the most of myself.  And if I didn’t listen they said it again. And if I didn’t listen they said it a third time. And they would give me second chances, and third chances. They never gave up on me, and so I didn’t give up on myself.

I told these young men my story then, and I repeat it now because I firmly believe that every child deserves the same chances that I had. And that’s why we’re here today -- to do what we can, in this year of action, to give more young Americans the support they need to make good choices, and to be resilient, and to overcome obstacles, and achieve their dreams.

This is an issue of national importance -- it's as important as any issue that I work on. It's an issue that goes to the very heart of why I ran for President -- because if America stands for anything, it stands for the idea of opportunity for everybody; the notion that no matter who you are, or where you came from, or the circumstances into which you are born, if you work hard, if you take responsibility, then you can make it in this country. That's the core idea.

And that’s the idea behind everything that I’ll do this year, and for the rest of my Presidency. Because at a time when the economy is growing, we’ve got to make sure that every American shares in that growth, not just a few.  And that means guaranteeing every child in America has access to a world-class education.  It means creating more jobs and empowering more workers with the skills they need to do those jobs.  It means making sure that hard work pays off with wages you can live on and savings you can retire on and health care that you can count on.  It means building more ladders of opportunity into the middle class for anybody who’s willing to work hard to climb them.

Those are national issues. They have an impact on everybody. And the problem of stagnant wages and economic insecurity and stalled mobility are issues that affect all demographic groups all across the country. My administration’s policies -- from early childhood education to job training, to minimum wages -- are designed to give a hand up to everybody, every child, every American willing to work hard and take responsibility for their own success. That's the larger agenda.

But the plain fact is there are some Americans who, in the aggregate, are consistently doing worse in our society -- groups that have had the odds stacked against them in unique ways that require unique solutions; groups who’ve seen fewer opportunities that have spanned generations. And by almost every measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century in this country are boys and young men of color. 

Now, to say this is not to deny the enormous strides we’ve made in closing the opportunity gaps that marred our history for so long.  My presence is a testimony to that progress.  Across this country, in government, in business, in our military, in communities in every state we see extraordinary examples of African American and Latino men who are standing tall and leading, and building businesses, and making our country stronger. Some of those role models who have defied the odds are with us here today -- the Magic Johnsons or the Colin Powells who are doing extraordinary things -- the Anthony Foxxes.

Anthony, yesterday he and I were talking about how both of us never knew our dads, and shared that sense of both how hard that had been but also how that had driven us to succeed in many ways.  So there are examples of extraordinary achievement. We all know that.  We don't need to stereotype and pretend that there’s only dysfunction out there. But 50 years after Dr. King talked about his dream for America’s children, the stubborn fact is that the life chances of the average black or brown child in this country lags behind by almost every measure, and is worse for boys and young men. If you’re African American, there’s about a one in two chance you grow up without a father in your house -- one in two. If you’re Latino, you have about a one in four chance. We know that boys who grow up without a father are more likely to be poor, more likely to underperform in school.

As a black student, you are far less likely than a white student to be able to read proficiently by the time you are in 4th grade. By the time you reach high school, you’re far more likely to have been suspended or expelled. There’s a higher chance you end up in the criminal justice system, and a far higher chance that you are the victim of a violent crime.  Fewer young Black and Latino men participate in the labor force compared to young white men.  And all of this translates into higher unemployment rates and poverty rates as adults.

And the worst part is we’ve become numb to these statistics.  We're not surprised by them.  We take them as the norm. We just assume this is an inevitable part of American life, instead of the outrage that it is.  That's how we think about it. It's like a cultural backdrop for us -- in movies and television. We just assume, of course, it's going to be like that. But these statistics should break our hearts. And they should compel us to act.

Michelle and I are blessed with two beautiful daughters. We don’t have a son  But I know if I had a son, on the day he was born I would have felt everything I felt with Malia and Sasha -- the awe, the gratitude, the overwhelming sense of responsibility to do everything in my power to protect that amazing new life from this big world out there. And just as our daughters are growing up into wonderful, beautiful young women, I’d want my son to feel a sense of boundless possibility. And I’d want him to have independence and confidence. And I'd want him to have empathy and compassion. I'd want him to have a sense of diligence and commitment, and a respect for others and himself -- the tools that he’d need to succeed.

I don't have a son, but as parents, that’s what we should want not just for our children, but for all children.  And I believe the continuing struggles of so many boys and young men -- the fact that too many of them are falling by the wayside, dropping out, unemployed, involved in negative behavior, going to jail, being profiled -- this is a moral issue for our country. It’s also an economic issue for our country.

After all, these boys are a growing segment of our population. They are our future workforce. When, generation after generation, they lag behind, our economy suffers.  Our family structure suffers. Our civic life suffers.  Cycles of hopelessness breed violence and mistrust. And our country is a little less than what we know it can be.  So we need to change the statistics -- not just for the sake of the young men and boys, but for the sake of America’s future.

That’s why, in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin verdict, with all the emotions and controversy that it sparked.  I spoke about the need to bolster and reinforce our young men, and give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them.  And I'm grateful that Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina and Tracy, are here with us today, along with Jordan Davis’s parents, Lucy and Ron.

In my State of the Union address last month, I said I’d pick up the phone and reach out to Americans willing to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential, so America can reach its full potential. And that’s what today is all about.

After months of conversation with a wide range of people, we’ve pulled together private philanthropies and businesses, mayors, state and local leaders, faith leaders, nonprofits, all who are committed to creating more pathways to success. And we’re committed to building on what works. And we call it ‘My Brother’s Keeper’.  Now, just to be clear – ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is not some big, new government program.  In my State of the Union address, I outlined the work that needs to be done for broad-based economic growth and opportunity for all Americans. We have manufacturing hubs, infrastructure spending -- I've been traveling around the country for the last several weeks talking about what we need to do to grow the economy and expand opportunity for everybody. And in the absence of some of those macroeconomic policies that create more good jobs and restore middle-class security, it’s going to be harder for everyone to make progress. And for the last four years, we’ve been working through initiatives like Promise Zones to help break down the structural barriers -- from lack of transportation to substandard schools-- that afflict some of this country’s most impoverished counties, and we’ll continue to promote these efforts in urban and rural counties alike.

Those are all government initiatives, government programs that we think are good for all Americans and we're going to keep on pushing for them. But what we’re talking about here today with ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is a more focused effort on boys and young men of color who are having a particularly tough time.  And in this effort, government cannot play the only -- or even the primary -- role.  We can help give every child access to quality preschool and help them start learning from an early age, but we can’t replace the power of a parent who’s reading to that child. We can reform our criminal justice system to ensure that it's not infected with bias, but nothing keeps a young man out of trouble like a father who takes an active role in his son’s life.

In other words, broadening the horizons for our young men and giving them the tools they need to succeed will require a sustained effort from all of us.  Parents will have to parent -- and turn off the television, and help with homework.  Teachers will need to do their part to make sure our kids don’t fall behind and that we're setting high expectations for those children and not giving up on them.  Business leaders will need to create more mentorships and apprenticeships to show more young people what careers are out there. Tech leaders will need to open young eyes to fields like computer science and engineering. Faith leaders will need to help our young men develop the values and ethical framework that is the foundation for a good and productive life.

So we all have a job to do. And we can do it together -- black and white, urban and rural, Democrat and Republican.  So often, the issues facing boys and young men of color get caught up in long-running ideological arguments about race and class, and crime and poverty, the role of government, and partisan politics. We've all heard those arguments before.  But the urgency of the situation requires us to move past some of those old arguments and focus on getting something done and focusing on what works.  It doesn’t mean the arguments are unimportant; it just means that they can't paralyze us.  And there’s enough goodwill and enough overlap and agreement that we should be able to go ahead and get some things done, without resolving everything about our history or our future.

Twenty years ago, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson started a program in the Miami public school system -- feel free to stand up -- to help young boys at risk of dropping out of school. Today, it serves thousands of students in dozens of schools.  As Mayor of New York, Mayor Bloomberg -- Michael Bloomberg --who’s here today, started a ‘Young Men’s Initiative’ for African-American and Latino boys, because he understood that in order for America to compete we need to make it easier for all our young people to do better in the classroom and find a job once they graduate.  .A bipartisan group of mayors called ‘Cities United’ has made this issue a priority in communities across the country. Senator Mike Lee -- a leader of the Tea Party -- has been working with Senator Dick Durbin -- a Democrat from my home state of Illinois -- to reduce disparities in our criminal justice system that have hit the African American and Latino communities especially hard.

 So I want to thank everybody who’s been doing incredible work -- many of the people who are here today, including members of Congress, who have been focused on this and are moving the needle in their communities and around the country.  They understand that giving every young person who’s willing to work hard a shot at opportunity should not be a partisan issue. Yes, we need to train our workers, invest in our schools, make college more affordable -- and government has a role to play.  And, yes, we need to encourage fathers to stick around, and remove the barriers to marriage, and talk openly about things like responsibility and faith and community. In the words of Dr. King, it is not ‘either-or’; it is’ both and’.

And if I can persuade Sharpton and O’Reilly to be in the same meeting -- then it means that there are people of good faith who want to get some stuff done, even if we don't agree on everything.  And that's our focus.  While there may not be much of an appetite in Congress for sweeping new programs or major new initiatives right now, we all know we can’t wait.  And so the good news is folks in the private sector who know how important boosting the achievement of young men of color is to this country -- they are ready to step up.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that some of the most forward-looking foundations in America are looking to invest at least $200 million over the next five years -- on top of the $150 million that they’ve already invested -- to test which strategies are working for our kids and expand them in cities across the country.  Many of these folks have been on the front lines in this fight for a long time. What’s more, they’re joined by business leaders, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs who are stepping forward to support this effort as well.  And my administration is going to do its part.  So today after my remarks are done, I’m going to pen this Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government not to spend more money, but to do things smarter, to determine what we can do right now to improve the odds for boys and young men of color, and make sure our agencies are working more effectively with each other, with those businesses, with those philanthropies, and with local communities to implement proven solutions.

And part of what makes this initiative so promising is that we actually know what works-- and we know when it works. Now, what do I mean by that? Over the years, we’ve identified key moments in the life of a boy or a young man of color that will, more often than not, determine whether he succeeds, or falls through the cracks.  We know the data.  We know the statistics. And if we can focus on those key moments, those life-changing points in their lives, you can have a big impact; you can boost the odds for more of our kids.

First of all, we know that during the first three years of life, a child born into a low-income family hears 30 million fewer words than a child born into a well-off family. And everybody knows babies are sponges, they just soak that up.  A 30-million-word deficit is hard to make up. And if a Black or Latino kid isn’t ready for kindergarten, he’s half as likely to finish middle school with strong academic and social skills.  So by giving more of our kids access to high-quality early education -- and by helping parents get the tools they need to help their children succeed -- we can give more kids a better shot at the career they’re capable of, and the life that will make us all better off. So that's point number one right at the beginning.

Point number two, if a child can’t read well by the time he’s in third grade, he’s four times less likely to graduate from high school by age 19 than one who can.  And if he happens to be poor, he’s six times less likely to graduate.  So by boosting reading levels, we can help more of our kids make the grade, keep on advancing, reach that day that so many parents dream of -- until it comes close and then you start tearing up -- and that's when they’re walking across the stage, holding that high school diploma.

Number three, we know that Latino kids are almost twice as likely as white kids to be suspended from school.  Black kids are nearly four times as likely.  And if a student has been suspended even once by the time they’re in 9th grade they are twice as likely to drop out.

That’s why my administration has been working with schools on alternatives to the so-called ‘zero tolerance’ guidelines -- not because teachers or administrators or fellow students should have to put up with bad behavior, but because there are ways to modify bad behavior that lead to good behavior -- as opposed to bad behavior out of school. We can make classrooms good places for learning for everybody without jeopardizing a child’s future. And by building on that work, we can keep more of our young men where they belong -- in the classroom, learning, growing, gaining the skills they need to succeed.

Number four, we know that students of color are far more likely than their white classmates to find themselves in trouble with the law.  If a student gets arrested, he’s almost twice as likely to drop out of school.  By making sure our criminal justice system doesn’t just function as a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, we can help young men of color stay out of prison, stay out of jail. And that means then, they’re more likely to be employable, and to invest in their own families, and to pass on a legacy of love and hope.

And finally, we know young black men are twice as likely as young white men to be ‘disconnected’ -- not in school, not working.  We've got to reconnect them. We've got to give more of these young men access to mentors. We've got to continue to encourage responsible fatherhood. We've got to provide more pathways to apply to college or find a job.  We can keep them from falling through the cracks, and help them lay a foundation for a career and a family and a better life.

In the discussion before we came in, General Powell talked about the fact that there are going to be some kids who just don't have a family at home that is functional, no matter how hard we try. But just an adult, any adult who’s paying attention can make a difference. Any adult who cares can make a difference.

Magic was talking about being in a school in Chicago, and rather than going to the school he brought the school to the company, All-State, that was doing the work. And suddenly, just that one conversation meant these young men saw something different.  A world opened up for them. It doesn’t take that much. But it takes more than we're doing now.

And that’s what ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is all about -- helping more of our young people stay on track; providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future; building on what works, when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.  And when I say, by the way, building on what works, it means looking at the actual evidence of what works. There are a lot of programs out there that sound good, are well-intentioned, well-inspired, but they’re not actually having an impact.  We don't have enough money or time or resources to invest in things that don't work, so we've got to be pretty hard-headed about saying if something is not working, let’s stop doing it. Let’s do things that work. And we shouldn’t care whether it was a Democratic program or a Republican program, or a faith-based program or -- if it works, we should support it. If it doesn’t, we shouldn’t.

And all the time recognizing that ‘my neighbor’s child is my child’ -- that each of us has an obligation to give every child the same chance this country gave so many of us.  So, in closing, let me just say this. None of this is going to be easy. This is not a one-year proposition. It’s not a two-year proposition. It's going to take time. We're dealing with complicated issues that run deep in our history, run deep in our society, and are entrenched in our minds. And addressing these issues will have to be a two-way bargain. Because no matter how much the community chips in, it’s ultimately going to be up to these young men and all the young men who are out there to step up and seize responsibility for their own lives.

And that’s why I want to close by speaking directly to the young men who are here today and all the boys and young men who are watching at home. Part of my message, part of our message in this initiative is ‘no excuses.’ Government and private sector and philanthropy and all the faith communities -- we all have a responsibility to help provide you the tools you need; we've got to help you knock down some of the barriers that you experience. That’s what we're here for.  But you’ve got responsibilities, too.  And I know you can meet the challenge -- many of you already are -- if you make the effort. It may be hard, but you will have to reject the cynicism that says the circumstances of your birth or society’s lingering injustices necessarily define you and your future.  It will take courage, but you will have to tune out the naysayers who say the deck is stacked against you, you might as well just give up -- or settle into the stereotype. It’s not going to happen overnight, but you’re going to have to set goals and you're going to have to work for those goals. Nothing will be given to you. The world is tough out there, there’s a lot of competition for jobs and college positions, and everybody has to work hard.  But I know you guys can succeed.  We've got young men up here who are starting to make those good choices because somebody stepped in and gave them a sense of how they might go about it.

And I know it can work because of men like Maurice Owens, who’s here today. I want to tell Moe’s story just real quick. When Moe was four years old, he moved with his mom Chauvet from South Carolina to the Bronx. His mom didn’t have a lot of money, and they lived in a tough neighborhood.  Crime was high.  A lot of young men ended up in jail or worse. But she knew the importance of education, so she got Moe into the best elementary school that she could find.  And every morning, she put him on a bus; every night, she welcomed him when he came home.  She took the initiative, she eventually found a sponsorship program that allowed Moe to attend a good high school.  And while many of his friends got into trouble, some of it pretty serious, Moe just kept on getting on the bus, and kept on working hard and reaching for something better.  And he had some adults in his life that were willing to give him advice and help him along the way.  And he ended up going to college.  And he ended up serving his country in the Air Force. And today, Moe works in the White House, just two doors down from the Oval Office, as the Special Assistant to my Chief of Staff. And Moe never misses a chance to tell kids who grew up just like he did that if he can make it, they can, too.

Moe and his mom are here today, so I want to thank them both for this incredible example. Stand up, Moe, and show off your mom there.  Good job, Moe.  So Moe didn’t make excuses. His mom had high expectations. America needs more citizens like Moe. We need more young men like Christian. We will beat the odds.  We need to give every child, no matter what they look like, where they live, the chance to reach their full potential.  Because if we do -- if we help these wonderful young men become better husbands and fathers, and well-educated, hardworking, good citizens -- then not only will they contribute to the growth and prosperity of this country, but they will pass on those lessons on to their children, on to their grandchildren, they will start a different cycle.  And this country will be richer and stronger for it for generations to come.

So let’s get going. Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.”.”

United States President The Honorable Barack H. Obama is pictured above strolling on the South Lawn of the White House on 14 October 2014 accompanied by a group of young men who are mentees under the  ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Initiative.  (Photograph extracted from the White House website -