“There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?”
– President Obama, July 19, 2013
President Barack Obama enters the East Room of the White House with Christian Campagne at the start of the “My Brother’s Keeper,” event, Feb. 27, 2014. “My Brother’s Keeper” is an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In the fall of 1870, a handful of students made their way through the northwest quadrant of the nation’s capital, and through the doors of D.C.’s “Preparatory High School for Colored Youth,” the country’s first public high school for African American children. There, in the shadow of the American Civil War, and dawned with the spark of reconstruction, a converted basement-turned-classroom in the lower floor of Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church bore the seeds of Dunbar High School, which would become one of the country’s preeminent institutions for African American educational achievement.
"Yesterday, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez met with civil rights leaders, and state and local elected officials at the White House to discuss how to safeguard every eligible American’s right to vote in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on Shelby County vs. Holder."
July 16, 2013
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama met with members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated in the Oval Office to commemorate the organization’s centennial anniversary and their 51st convention.
The President met with the organization to congratulating them on their 100 year anniversary. He acknowledged their long history of community service, mentorship, and advocacy work in communities across the country.
• Past National President Mona Bailey
• Past National President Gwendolyn Boyd
• Past National President Frankie Freeman
• Congresswoman and Past National President Marcia Fudge
• Former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, Member
• National President Cynthia Butler-McIntyre
• Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, Honorary Delta Sigma Theta member
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2013
Statement by the President
The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America.
I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.
I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.
We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this.
As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.
July 11, 2013
President Barack Obama greets members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers NCAA Championship men’s basketball team in the Oval Office, July 11, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
On March 15, 1963, the Ramblers played Mississippi State in a regional semifinal game known as the Game of Change.
The year: 1963, right in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. The team: The Loyola Ramblers, coached by George Ireland. The controversy: The Ramblers started four African-American players on the “Iron Five” lineup, even though the unwritten rules of college basketball allowed only two African-American players to start, and an unwritten law in Mississippi wouldn’t allow play against integrated teams.
Earlier in the year, the Ramblers had won 20 consecutive games and earned a tournament berth. The Game of Change took place in East Lansing, Michigan. The all-white Mississippi State team snuck into Michigan in defiance of an injunction issued by the Governor of Mississippi that was intended to prohibit the game.
Judy Van Dyck, the daughter of the Head Coach, George Ireland, accompanied the team today. She told me that she remembered her father saying, with tears in his eyes, that the time had come for change,that these were his kids, and he wanted to make a difference so that no other kids would have to go through what they went through.
And that’s just what happened.
The Ramblers won 61-51. Before tip-off, photographers captured one of the great moments in college sports history when Loyola captain Jerry Harkness, and Mississippi State captain Joe Dan Gold shook hands at center court. The team gave President Obama a framed copy of that famous photo today.
The Ramblers went on to eventually win the 1963 NCAA Championship, by beating the Cincinnati Bearcats in overtime, 60-58, denying the Bearcats their third consecutive national title.
All nine players from the 1963 Ramblers graduated from Loyola, and many went on to excel in graduate studies. And this November, the Ramblers will become the first team to be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Their induction coincides with several major 50th year anniversaries of the Civil Rights movement—from the murder of Medgar Evers, to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, to the Children’s March, to the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door in Alabama, to the March on Washington and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Ramblers broke barriers by refusing to give in to prejudice, and simply playing their best. As I watched President Obama speak with the players in the Oval Office, I thought of just how far we’ve come.
In 1963, a governor refused to let them play. But today, a President welcomed them to the White House with open arms.
Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She oversees the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.