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After Morehouse, Obama Continues to Inspire at Atlanta Fundraiser

President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the home of Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank on Sunday after giving the commencement address at Morehouse College.

Sunday at 2:12 p.m.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Everybody, please have a seat. Please have a seat.

Let me begin by saying that you just heard from one of the finest senators we’ve got in this country, and an example of the kind of young national leadership that we are seeing. Michael, who was a superintendent in schools, cares about policy, cares about education, and he’s doing a great job in the Senate. And so I couldn’t be prouder to call him a friend. Please give Michael Bennet a big round of applause. (Applause.)

And, Michael, if it makes you feel any better, the feeling you described is exactly how I feel every time I precede Michelle on the podium. (Laughter.) People want to get rid of me quick, too. (Laughter.)

I also want to acknowledge one of the finest young mayors that we’ve got in the country — Kasim Reed in the house. (Applause.) And the person primarily responsible for Kasim’s success, his mother. (Applause.) Who, of course, looks too young to be his mother, but is his mother. (Laughter.)

And I want to thank Arthur Blank for hosting us. Speaking of people responsible for our success, Arthur’s mom is here. She is celebrating her 98th birthday today, and so we’ve got to give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) Happy birthday. Happy birthday. And Arthur has promised for your birthday that the Falcons will win the Super Bowl this year. (Laughter and applause.) That’s a promise. (Applause.)

I just had the pleasure of speaking at the Morehouse commencement. And it was a spectacular gathering — a very wet gathering because there were thunderstorms, but people were undaunted. And you had 500-plus incredible young men and their families there. The valedictorian was a young man, an immigrant from Ethiopia, who, like me, was skinny and initially at least it was very hard to pronounce his name. And he’s now going to be going off to Microsoft to help do program design at Microsoft’s head office.

During the course of the address that I gave I had the opportunity to address a young man who had been taken away from his mother when he was four, lived with his grandparents but then had some issues there, ended up in the foster system, and three years after he entered into the foster care system was admitted to Morehouse and is now on his way to Harvard Law School, where he intends to practice law in the child welfare system and is already on the national advisory board for children’s welfare.

And I tell these stories because all around the country I get a chance to meet young people who are simply remarkable, who have overcome the biggest odds, who are doing things that I could not ever dream of doing. And it makes you so optimistic about the future of America. There is a spirit of innovation and a spirit of determination, and there is an awareness of the environment and social equity, and a belief that there’s nothing that can stop America when people are pulling together. And you see it in these young people and it just makes you ready to go out there and fight the good fight.

And the challenge is that all too often that same spirit isn’t as evident as it needs to be in Washington. Sometimes you feel as if Washington is impeding rather than advancing the possibilities that these young people represent.

And so for the last four years, I’ve been fairly busy — (laughter) — ending a war; winding down another war; making sure that we went after al Qaida and those who attacked us on 9/11; recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; saving an auto industry; stabilizing the banking system; making sure that we have a system in place that every American has access to health care; ensuring that we begin on the road to energy independence; deal with issues like climate change; double our fuel efficiency on cars, double our production of clean energy; make sure that our education system is on a solid path of reform; and making sure that college is affordable so that those young people that I saw at Morehouse, that more of them are able to graduate without a mountain of debt.

We know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do when it comes to education. One of the things that I talked about during the State of the Union is making sure that we’ve got early childhood education in place. The last time I was in Georgia, I was out in Decatur. It’s got a wonderful model program for early childhood education. You’ve got kids who are poor alongside kids who are middle class, alongside disabled kids — all of them coming together with outstanding teachers who have teacher coaches.

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