President Obama spoke to students at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago this afternoon, using the occasion to address a basket of issues, including gun control, raising the minimum wage, education spending, and the overall state of our communities.
During the 26-minute speech, Obama said that he wished he had a father around when he was growing up, and that students he met with earlier in the day were “no different than me [sic]”:
What I explained to them was, I had issues too when I was their age. I just had an environment that was a little more forgiving. So when I screwed up, the consequences weren’t as high as when kids on the south side screw up. So I had more of a safety net. But these guys are no different than me.
Then Obama spoke about Martin Luther King, Jr and Hadiya Pendleton, whose parents were in the audience today:
When Hadiya Pendleton and her classmates visited Washington three weeks ago, they spent time visiting the monuments, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial just off the national mall. And that memorial stands as a tribute to everything Dr. King achieved in his lifetime. But it also reminds us of how hard that work was. And how many disappointments he experienced. He was here in Chicago fighting poverty, and just like a lot of us, there were times where he felt like he was losing hope. So in some ways that memorial is a testament not to work that’s completed but it’s a testament to the work that remains unfinished His goal was to free us not only from the shackles of discrimination but from the shadow of poverty that haunts too many of our communities. The self-destructive impulses and the mindless violence that claims so many lives, of so many innocent young people. These are difficult challenges and no solution we offer will be perfect. But perfection has never been our goal, our goal has been to try and make whatever difference we can….
Obama’s speech began almost simultaneously with the release of information about the federal charges facing former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and his wife Sandi, leading one reporter to note the suspicious timing:
Next stop for Obama: Florida vacation.