U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday launched a passionate appeal to improve opportunities for minority youths, saying their plight was an "outrage" that could easily have become his story.
Obama cited statistics showing young Blacks and Hispanics in the U.S. were, on average, disadvantaged throughout their lives.
"These statistics should break our hearts, and they should compel us to act," Obama said, unveiling a partnership with foundations and companies aimed at helping minority youths succeed.
In his speech at the White House, America's first African American president said "I could see myself in these young men," who grew up in communities with failing schools and street violence.
"And the only difference is that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving," said Obama, who lived in Hawaii for much of his youth.
"So when I made a mistake, the consequences were not as severe," he said, emphasizing also that, although he grew up without his father, his family "never gave up on me. And so I didn't give up on myself."
The issue of minority youths was "of national importance. It is as important as any issue that I work on," he said, adding "we just assume this is an inevitable part of American life instead of the outrage that it is."© (c) 2014 AFP