UK & World News

  • 28 February 2014, 10:17

Barack Obama Speaks Of 'Getting High' In Youth

Barack Obama has spoken candidly about taking drugs while growing up in a fatherless household.

The US president, who has touched on the topic before, was speaking at the launch of a new initiative aimed at helping black and ethnic minority men succeed.

In personal terms, Mr Obama called for vigorous efforts to reverse underachievement among young black and Hispanic males.

He also cautioned young minority men not to repeat his own youthful mistakes in an unforgiving world.

"I made bad choices. I got high, not always thinking about the harm it could do.

"I didn't always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short," Mr Obama said.

Addressing America's young men of colour directly, the president told them to have "no excuses".

"Nothing will be given to you," he said.

"The world is tough out there. There's a lot of competition for jobs and college positions and everybody has to work hard."

The large, mostly African-American and Hispanic crowd was dotted with dignitaries, among them black and Hispanic members of Congress, NBA great Earvin"Magic" Johnson and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Also present were the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two black Florida teenagers killed in separate shootings.

Under Mr Obama's initiative, businesses, foundations and community groups would coordinate investments to come up with or support programmes that help keep young people out of the criminal justice system and improve their access to higher education.

Several foundations pledged at least $200m (120m) over five years to promote that goal.

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