By Marc Morial
President & CEO, National Urban League
Earlier today, I participated in the White House gathering for the official announcement of â€œMy Brother’s Keeper,â€ an initiative bringing together leading foundations and businesses in a new public-private partnership aimed at tackling the issues facing boys and young men of color in America.
I have spoken at length about the issues facing Black males, penning a recent column on the value our culture places on young Black males and dedicating a two-part column last summer (July 10 and July 24, 2013) to discussing the state of Black men.Â In the latter, I applauded President Obama for stating then that he would use his â€œconvening powerâ€ to engage a cross-section of citizens in doing more to give African American boys â€œthe sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them.â€Â During his State of the Union last month, the President again noted that he would move forward with a focus on reaching out to foundation leaders, corporate executives, the faith-based community and others to explore ways to lift up boys and young men of color.
Today, I am encouraged and energized that â€œMy Brotherâ€™s Keeperâ€ is an inspiring example of what we can do when we transform words into action and coalesce around complex issues with a commitment to changing lives.
The need for this initiative is clear.Â Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career â€“ including large disparities in reading proficiency, employment, and involvement in the criminal justice system, among other areas.Â That these young men are more than six times as likely to be victims of murder than their white peers and account for almost half of the countryâ€™s murder victims each year should be a wake-up call for all of us.
I commend President Obama for his leadership and strength to take on this initiative. I am proud to be a part of the launch of â€œMy Brotherâ€™s Keeper,â€ but this is not simply a one-day commitment of time. There is still much to be done as we work together â€“ across the public-private-nonprofit spectrumÂ â€“ to drive this initiative forward.Â The opportunity is before us, and so is the will.
To read more about this initiative, click here.