Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Obama Effect" inspires new possibilities for many black students

"Obama Effect" inspires new possibilities for many black students
By Christina Brown

8:21 AM on 09/08/2009

It's lunchtime at Hempstead High, but every Tuesday, instead of heading to the cafeteria, Ramone Johnson heads to a new kind of class.

He speaks with mentors - volunteers from "100 Black Men of America" who are hoping to inspire African-American teens. They are pictures of success: a retired Army general, a financial consultant, a firefighter.

"These youngsters today, they're willing to talk, and sometimes they just want someone to talk to," said Eddison Bramble, president of the 100 Black Men organization on Long Island. "And that's important."

Instead of athletes or actors, the talk now is about President Obama.

The president's image has been everywhere for the past two years, and it's made an impression on these young men.

In a community like this one where too many African-American young men are surrounded by images of failure, President Obama is a powerful symbol of success.

And that message of success is not just limited to high-schoolers. A Vanderbilt University study concluded that Obama's image of success helped close the performance gap between blacks and whites on test scores for other age groups.

Researchers call it "The Obama Effect."

For now, Ramone Johnson is focused on the future. He wants to be an entrepreneur or a businessman.

He's being raised by his grandmother and is looking to take advantage of every resource, even if it's simply a new image of what's possible.

For more information on the 100 Black Men of Long Island, Inc. you may write to us @ 100 Black Men of Long Island, Inc. 9 Centre Street, Hempstead, New York 11550 or email us @

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