Reflections on Meeting with Obama Administration Officials and Young Men of Color
Reflections on Meeting with Obama Administration Officials and Young Men of ColorAmy Wilkins, Senior Fellow for Social Justice, the College Board
Board of Trustees member Maghan Keita led a delegation of 10 African American and Latino young men to meet with Obama administration officials at the White House. The young men — all successful AP® Exam takers from the Washington, D.C., metro area — were there to share their experiences and insights with administration officials charged with overseeing the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
The young men were remarkably thoughtful, well-spoken, honest, and often funny in recounting their stories. The stories they told reflected the full range of the American experience, touching on immigration, financial hardship, economically secure two-parent households, grave family illness, high-wealth suburban schools, and under-resourced city schools. The administration officials — all men of color themselves — engaged respectfully with the young men and shared their own backgrounds. And, if they were listening carefully, the officials heard the same themes that the All In program has identified through public opinion research: the critical role that adults who work in schools play in shaping students’ expectations for and of themselves; and the isolation that is often felt by high-achieving students of color.
Maghan, in his opening remarks and throughout the two-hour meeting, deftly and repeatedly struck the “own your future” chord. Then he took it further, challenging the young men to not only own their own future but also embrace the responsibility of truly being their brother’s keeper. Being their brother’s keeper means reaching out to high-ability peers and encouraging them to take rigorous courses, and providing lowerclassmen with support. The young men responded to Maghan’s challenge, calling themselves “agents of my brother’s keeper,” and looked to the College Board to help them find ways to serve other young African American, Latino, and Native American men. We’ll keep you posted on how well we do in meeting their expectations.
The meeting was held in the Indian Treaty room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — a room sheathed in marble with a soaring ceiling — widely thought to be one of the grandest rooms in the White House complex. After the meeting, the young men viewed ever-grander and more historic rooms as they enjoyed a private tour of the White House. Some who lagged behind even caught a glimpse of Bo, the Obama family’s dog.
It was a day the young men will likely remember for a long time. Perhaps even more important, the officials who attended the meeting seem to have found it valuable — valuable enough that as the College Board group departed, there was talk of holding similar meetings in the future.
The following young men attended the October 27 meeting:
Adrian Ernesto Jiminez, Loudoun County High School
Robert Patrick Cuyjet, W.T. Woodson High School
Reese Falcon Fulgenzi, Loudoun County High School
Thomas Elliott Stone, United States Naval Academy (previously from Mount Hebron High School)
Phillip Dean Hilliard, River Hill High School
Soulihe Jemal Nida, University of Maryland (previously from Wheaton High School)
Randall Theophilus Crandon, River Hill High School
Francis Adebayo Oyebanjo, Gwynn Park High School
Norman Morris Ellis III, Woodbridge Senior High School
Kireh Terrell Wright, Parkville High School