Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus dinner

President Obama addressed the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual dinner on Saturday and made the case again for Promise Neighborhoods:

This economic crisis has made the problems in the communities of color much worse. But we all know that these problems have been there for a long time. Communities were struggling to catch up long before this economic storm came ashore. One study that looked at trends in this country over the past few decades found that while roughly seven out of every 10 middle class white children end up surpassing their parents’ income, roughly seven out of every 10 middle class black children do not. Think about that. For the majority of some Americans upward mobility, for the majority of others — stagnation or even downward mobility. That was taking place over the last decade, before the economic crisis. That kind of inequality is unacceptable in the United States of America.

Bringing hope and opportunity to places where they’re in short supply — that’s not easy. It will take a focused and sustained effort to eradicate the structural inequalities in our communities — structural inequalities that make it difficult for children of color to make a success of their lives, no matter how smart or how driven or how talented they are. That’s why we’re launching Promise Neighborhoods to build on Geoffrey Canada’s success in Harlem with a comprehensive approach to ending poverty by giving people the tools they need to pull themselves up.

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