President Barack Obama Heads to Oakland for My Brother’s Keeper Alliance’s First National Gathering


February 19, 2019


Photo: Pete Souza 

Having a Black president in office was not just about the time he served, it was also about the impact he would have on generations to come. President Barack Obama is determined to keep building, even outside of the White House. This week, Obama, the Obama Foundation, and the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance will launch MBK Rising! in Oakland.


Five years ago, Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative as a call to action to help close the opportunity gap for boys and young men of color. MBK Rising! is a two-day convening that will bring together the initiative’s growing network of communities, elected officials, leaders, young men of color and the organizations working hard to help them achieve their dreams. Attendees will celebrate, showcase, and learn from local and national leaders at the forefront of transformational organizations that are reducing barriers, expanding opportunity, and creating lasting, systemic change.

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Five years ago, I launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative calling on all Americans to take action on behalf our nation’s boys and young men of color. It was a call to make sure every child felt valued, safe, and supported by their community—a call to help these young men in particular see hope and opportunity in their future. We’ve come a long way in those five years. Today, as part of the @ObamaFoundation, the @MBK_Alliance consists of nearly 250 communities working to break down barriers that too often leave boys and young men of color at a disadvantage. And tomorrow in Oakland, I’ll join the My Brother’s Keeper community to mark the progress we’ve made and chart the course ahead at a celebration we’re calling MBK Rising! In the lead-up to the event, and in honor of Black History Month, I wanted to share a nonfiction reading list that can help to provide some essential context about the challenges that many people of color face every day. From modern memoirs to cornerstones of the American narrative, these works can help us better understand our country’s past and our evolving, persistent struggles with race—and they can be fuel on our journey toward a more fair and just future for all of our sons and daughters. They certainly are for me. I hope you’ll take some time to read some of these books, letters, and articles. And tomorrow, I hope you’ll follow along with MBK Rising! at Obama.org/mbka. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson A Stone of Hope: A Memoir by Jim St. Germain with Jon Sternfeld The Upshot from The New York Times: Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin The Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

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The event kicked off Monday and along with President Obama, speakers include Stephen Curry, John Legend, Michael B. Jordan, Ryan Coogler, Sybrina Fulton, and Rep. Lucy McBath. The Obama Foundation shares that one of the objectives of the event is to increase understanding about effective solutions for reducing youth violence, mentoring, and collective impact that leads to better outcomes for boys and young men of color.

The event registration is closed but luckily for us, the organization will live stream the main stage sessions on Tuesday, February 19 at 3pm PT and Wednesday, February 20 at 9:30am PT and 3:30pm PT. You can sign up on the summit’s homepage for reminders on when to tune in.


As a warm up to the event and a nod to Black History Month, President Obama took to his Facebook page to share a nonfiction reading that can help provide the background to some of the challenges that people of color face. His picks include Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight and The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

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