Obama turns personal at 'Promise Zones' announcement
January 9th, 2014
04:32 PM ET
11 months ago

Obama turns personal at 'Promise Zones' announcement

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama took a detour into his personal history Thursday, saying a new economic initiative could help kids who were "goofing off" like he once did.

"There was a period of time in my life where I was goofing off," Obama told an audience in the White House. "I was raised by a single mom. I didn't know my dad."

The President's remarks came as he designated "Promise Zones" across the country - economically hard-hit areas where the White House will focus efforts on creating manufacturing jobs and improving economic security.

During his speech, Obama singled out a young man standing behind him as an example of someone who could benefit from the program. Roger Brown, now a sophomore in college, attended Harlem Children's Zone, a model for the new White House initiative.

"Now, the way I hear it, Roger, you were still having some problems sometimes," Obama said. "He was the class clown and acting out and almost got himself expelled.

"But the teachers and the staff did not give up on him. They saw something in him. They kept pushing him."

Finally, "something clicked" for Roger, Obama said. The young man now plans to attend medical school and become a neurologist.

"If you want to know why I care about this stuff so much, it's because I'm not that different from Roger," Obama told the audience. "The only difference between me and Roger was my environment was more forgiving than his."

Obama joked he had once shared something else with Roger: the same haircut. The President mused that someday he might again grow out his hair and sport something that resembled the young man's long, natural style.

"Maybe after I'm done with the presidency I can go back to that," Obama said, to laughter.

Addressing the lawmakers in the audience, Obama said he would continue his push to address income inequality "in my State of the Union address - which I want the legislators here to know, I'm going to keep the list shorter than usual."

"They are cheering silently," he joked.

Obama will give his State of the Union address January 28.


Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I can honestly say that 5 plus years later I am as proud, happy, and grateful to claim this man as MY President as I was that night in November 2008.
    He is not perfect, but he is GENUINE.
    This man cares about ALL of us, and he has put in the hard work and taken the abuse to prove it.
    God bless our President Barack Hussein Obama and these United States of America.

    January 9, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. rla

    What a n election year crock! All with money we don't have, with social rather than economic big government objectives... This administration has failed,,, It had no new ideas for 5 years and now is out there making speeches and sounding noble???? Wow what hutspah!

    January 9, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Highly esteemed president in USA history–passed healthcare the most critical one.

    January 9, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Really?

    Done with the Presidency? when did he start being President?!

    January 9, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. PaulG

    Empty promises it would seem, too much money in off-shoring US jobs. Unless this trend reverses we're on a third world course.

    January 9, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. IA

    Won't get "snarky" but could as the word "promise" is headlined.

    January 9, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    Watch out these India diplomats visa fraud, these guys are raping our benefits, SS, Medicare etc. Tighten immigration, first.

    January 9, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    Radical Right playbook:
    Unemployment extension – Government is teaching people to goof off.
    Teaching kids not to goof off – Government interference with the God given right to goof off.
    "The young man now plans to attend medical school and become a neurologist." – ObamaCare conspiracy

    January 9, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Reggie53

    Mr. President.......you are still goofing off. You are doing a terrible job so it is time for you to move on. Goodbye and good luck in whatever you do. You are wrecking our country and we cannot handle your way of governing anymore.

    January 9, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wow what hutspah!
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yes. Indeed. Turned this economy right around he did. Dow Jones doing just fine thank you, actually more than fine. And my 401k you ask? Well just dandy as well and off life support thank ye.
    Now about your posting factless comments just to be hateful using words that you can't spell.......
    That takes some special kind of CHUTZPAH.

    January 9, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. edog

    Amazing how the supposed GOP pro business, government do not create jobs folks keep saying how OBAMA failed. The Dow, the S&P are all sitting at all time highs!! It took 8 years of reckless BUSH policies to get us into this mess, and 5 years later, although not great, at least the stock market is at an all time high. Hey all you Capitalist and pro business idiots. Did you know that the stock market is the best indicator of how good or poor a Capitalist society and free market system is doing. With that as an indicator, it would seem OBAMA is doing OK.

    January 9, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. O'drama ya Mama

    PaulG

    Empty promises it would seem, too much money in off-shoring US jobs. Unless this trend reverses we're on a third world course.
    January 9, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    The Democrats did try and bring jobs back to the US with the "Bring Home Jobs Act". Guess who obstructed that one? Guess!

    January 9, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @PaulG "Empty promises it would seem, too much money in off-shoring US jobs."
    Do you RadRight folks even bother to read the articles? How does encouraging a disadvantaged child to become a neurologist in the US contribute to off-shoring US jobs?

    January 9, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. IA

    @DM4O...Sadly, I don't see it the same as you. Too much non-transparency.

    January 9, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @edog "Amazing how the supposed GOP pro business....."
    GOP is not pro anything anymore. They are anti-Obama and that is it. I think Obama could propose ending all taxes, and passing out guns to everyone and the GOP would still block the effort.

    January 9, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  16. Harold Peters

    Isn't that the same guy who promised over and over and over again, "You can keep your policy. Period"
    That turned out soooo well. Wonder what this promise is going to end up like?

    January 9, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Don't worry white Republicans. These seem like nice, black kids; not the "loafers" and “takers” you hate and are obsessed with.

    January 9, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    OBAMA...will you stop with all that fake sucking up to the poor. look we need poor people like we need rich people. you simply can not save them all. u have a whole nation of hard working productive americans to help.focus on them,not the lazy poor.

    January 9, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  19. tomj

    The GOP led by John McCain could care less, their only concerns are tax breaks for the extreme wealthy and wars

    January 9, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. wendel

    the right can not stand a real person as the president . their idea is some one like Christy ryan or that foreigner cruz People you can really put your faith in. Proud of the president his family and his ideas. Hey I just heard Alaska is concidering legalizing pot. I thought they already had. You mean Palin acts like that without toking????

    January 9, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. Bobbyvv

    Dominican mama 4 Obama says:
    January 9, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm
    Wow what hutspah!
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Yes. Indeed. Turned this economy right around he did. Dow Jones doing just fine thank you, actually more than fine. And my 401k you ask? Well just dandy as well and off life support thank ye.
    Now about your posting factless comments just to be hateful using words that you can’t spell…….
    That takes some special kind of CHUTZPAH.

    --------–

    Not sure I see what is so hateful about 'hutzpah' no matter how it is spelled. Was there more to that post?

    January 9, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    What im saying is being poor is not about having money. If i lost all of my money tomorrow, and i mean every dime of it, i would be broke,but i would not be poor. Poor people have broken spirits and they think like loosers. They always have a hand out or two looking for someone to hand them a job,hand them house,pay for their children.Obama,said he would give them all of that. and thats why they voted for him.

    January 9, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  23. Fish

    Yea, we've been living in a promise zone since 2009, I promise to end the war, I promise to create jobs, I promise to make income inequality my priority, etc... If they work for our kids as they have for everyone else, they are screwed. Now if the President would simply admit privately he could use some help, the ladies of government would oblige, they have been listening since 2009 instead of speechifying personally I think Sen. Warren could save his Presidency for him as they come from similar backgrounds, both highly educated kids who worked their way up the ranks to success. He became President she a Senator but both equally capable of either office yet I believe she is more politically savvy or administratively capable!!! Take a walk on the wild side Mr. President she ay become your surrogate mother!!!

    January 9, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    Now he plans to attend medical school????

    Is he even remotely aware of the GPA required? if he has been "goofing off" his grades are not likely to measure up to expectations for medical school.

    Of course, the government will pick up the tab.........which it will NOT do for a white kid.

    January 9, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Yeah,i know the truth is hard to hear.

    January 9, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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