ESSENCE.COM Dec, 08, 2008

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Last June, President Obama gave a speech at the Apostolic Church of God
in Chicago, IL. where he spoke about the importance of fatherhood and its affect on the African American community. Here are several young boys who have been touched by the President in one way or the other.

“We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one,” said President Obama during that Father’s Day speech. Here, Mr. Obama encounters one young boy who is simply overjoyed to meet him.

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“I know what it means to have an absent father, although my circumstances weren’t as tough as they are for many young people today. Even though my father left us when I was two years old, and I only knew him from the letters he wrote and the stories that my family told, I was luckier than most,” said President Obama during his Father’s Day speech last year. This young boy at the Crown Center Coliseum in North Carolina gets a boost from the man who would be president.

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Schoolchildren and teachers react to a surprise visit from then President-elect Obama at St. Columbanus Catholic School on the South Side of Chicago last year.


During his Father’s Day speech last year, President Obama spoke about alleviating some of the pressures of child rearing from mothers.

“We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong,” said Mr. Obama.


Thousands of people came out to hear President Obama when he was on the campaign trail, many of them single moms who brought their sons in the hope that his message would have an impact.

“I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother – how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle – that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls; that if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock – that foundation – on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer,” said President Obama.


“The first is setting an example of excellence for our children – because if we want to set high expectations for them, we’ve got to set high expectations for ourselves. It’s great if you have a job; it’s even better if you have a college degree. It’s a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children…” said President Obama in his Father’s Day speech given last year at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL.

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Students at the Excellence Charter School of Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn wrote letters to President Obama. He is just one example the boys can look up to as someone who has achieved their life’s goals.

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“We know that education is everything to our children’s future. We know that they will no longer just compete for good jobs with children from Indiana, but children from India and China and all over the world. We know the work and the studying and the level of education that requires,” said President Obama.

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Students at the Excellence Charter School of Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn hold high hopes for our new President and for themselves. In his Father’s Day speech last year, President Obama is quoted as saying:

“[Our young girls and boys]see when you are ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when you are inconsiderate at home; or when you are distant; or when you are thinking only of yourself. And so it’s no surprise when we see that behavior in our schools or on our streets. That’s why we pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down – you’re strong by lifting them up.”

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“We try. We hope. We do what we can to build our house upon the sturdiest rock. And when the winds come, and the rains fall, and they beat upon that house, we keep faith that our Father will be there to guide us, and watch over us, and protect us, and lead His children through the darkest of storms into light of a better day,” said President Obama, who knows first hand the awesome responsibility of parenthood.