Today in the pouring rain, 10,000 or more brave souls joined 400 plus proud Morehouse College graduates — all crowded under ponchos, hats and even program books — to hear their President "bring the message," to and for young black men of the future. And rain or no, the President did not disappoint.
And yes, I was one of those 10,000 being pounded by rain that seem to come on schedule. But no regrets here. Dr. King, my personal hero Ambassador Andrew Young, and countless others in the civil rights movement dealt with much, much worse, for much, much longer.
President Obama spoke directly to young black men who come at a critical time for America, as well a critical time of and for the traditional African-American experience in America.
Young men who, if pointed in the right direction and truly inspired to make a difference, could very well remake and reset the very future of Black America. A Black American community that is arguably at a historic tipping point nearly 50 years since Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Of course, Dr. King was himself a Morehouse Man, arguably in a very different era and time. Nonetheless, these 400 Black Morehouse Men can rise to today's challenges, just as Dr. King rose to his back then. That was President Obama's message today. The President also noted that Dr. King was only 15 years old when he entered Morehouse as a student. Talk about a young impact player for America to bet on. How many of us wouldn't make that same bet 100 times over today?
I was proud to be there in attendance today, braving the pouring rain just like countless others. It was the least I could do to encourage these Black young heroes in the making. It was the right thing to do, paying respect to Morehouse College. It was a public 'tipping of a respectful hat' by me to our President, the Honorable Barack Obama. A President I am likewise honored to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Underserved and Community Empowerment for his U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capabality.
No doubt, countless attendees were drenched, and if they were honest, even a little frustrated today by the weather conditions (just like I was — smile), but I am also sure that when they got home, had a good meal, and sat back to reflect on the 'thing' they just witnessed — well, I am sure they were proud to have sat through the pouring rain too.
The President poured out his heart, made it plain, and made the message (to these young graduating men) personal. It was a side of this President that I am frankly not use to seeing much. But because of all these reasons, it was a powerful and important message. One that should resonate and ricochet widely through inner-city, under-served and otherwise challenged Black and Brown communities America-wide. And now that I think about it, make that middle-class and well-to-do Black America too.
Go ahead Mr. President. Today you stood in the rain (well, sort of — smile again), but you also helped to set the stage for the "rainbows that only and almost always follow storms." It is a scientific fact that you cannot have a rainbow without a storm first.
We should not turn away from our problems, our challenges, our responsibilities and our pain — but towards them.
Commendations to the President for a job well done. Read the President's complete remarks here. Share them with others.
Okay, let's go.
John Hope Bryant is an empowerment leader, the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S.