- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

At a town-hall meeting at a historically black college, President Obama said Tuesday he made “all kinds of bad decisions” as a teen and that more black boys in America need people to tell them “you are worth something.”

Speaking at North Carolina A&T State University, Mr. Obama referred indirectly to past drug use but said growing up in Hawaii ensured that he wasn’t going to have a violent confrontation with police. He said young black men often tell him nowadays about being on the street and taking drugs.

“I was doing the same thing,” Mr. Obama said in the event aired by ESPN. “It’s just that I was in Hawaii, so I wasn’t going to get shot, and there was only so far I could fall if I made bad decisions,” adding that he had made “all kind of bad decisions.”

The president said he started the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 to send a message, particularly to “young people of color,” by finding mentors for minority boys and young men.

“It does not take a lot to transform the life of a young man,” Mr. Obama said. “We are now trying to get more and more businesses to participate. The central principal is, for so many of our boys, it is important to have an adult who is taking an interest in them … who tells them you are worth something, you are important.”

The event also focused on sports opportunities, and the president joked during a commercial break that not all black men are good at basketball.

“Every brother thinks he can play ball, and it’s not the case,” he said to laughter. “Sometimes you get them out there. It’s disappointing … My game is broke. [I] am worried about the Achilles.”

Discussing his plans after he leaves office, Mr. Obama said, “I am going to sleep for two weeks and then I am going to take Michelle on a very nice vacation.”

After that, Mr. Obama said, he would be spending more time on things like My Brother’s Keeper and Mrs. Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” program.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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